Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Quagmire Awaits: Afghanistan

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It is understandable that the Obama campaign thinks it still necessary to emphasize that their man is an unbridled warrior in the fight against terrorism, at least as anti-terrorist as the opponent, but much smarter about it.

To that end, Barack seems to be wedding himself to a (perhaps misguided) strategy that can be summarized as the War in Afghanistan.

If today's news reports are accurate, Obama has criticized the Bush Administration for not redeploying enough of the departing Iraq troops to Afghanistan; he also made the categorical statement that the major front in the War on Terrorism is in Afghanistan and Pakistan, not Iraq.

Some questions arise from taking that position, the primary one being:

Does a mere change in geography strike at the core deficiencies of the current disastrous strategy that underpins the Bush-Cheney approach to the unquestionably serious problem of fundamentalist Islamic terrorism? The boots on the ground approach still holds sway. The ground somewhat changes, but not much else.

One can argue that, in comparison to Afghanistan, Iraq was a rather culturally advanced nation, notwithstanding its rule by a homicidal maniac, Saddam; Afghanistan, on the other hand, has but a nominal central ruling authority in place, has no infrastructure to speak of, no industry, no discernible educational system, in fact no discernible institutional structure whatsoever. It is essentially a vast swath of undeveloped land, sections of which are ruled by sundry "war lords" and tribal kingpins, most of whom have no allegiance to any centralized government, including the current one.

Into that wilderness we are--again--going to send American troops, presumably to, like an old fashioned Western posse, track down the bad guys and "bring them to justice." Is that the best tactical response we can come up with?

Does the US not possess "technical means" to monitor virtually every square inch of the earth, in great detail? (Google seems to.) Are we not being told that we already know where the enemy is entrenched, namely the Pakistan side of its border with Afghanistan? Do we not have virtually unlimited capacity to wreak hell from the air, using both manned and unmanned delivery systems to bomb at will, with zero risk to US personnel? Do we need to ask soldiers to risk their lives and limbs by wading into villages and camps with their M-16s to put bullets between the eyes Taliban and Al Qaeda members? Is that modern, technical warfare?

Can we target more precisely when we use human beings as the ground delivery system? Yes. Do we need that added precision to disrupt the logistics of Taliban and Al Qaeda forces enough so that not only will they be unable to present a direct threat to us and our allies, they will find it impossible to locate a place where they can get a quiet, safe night's sleep? I hope DOD is building all the drones they can, even if it means one less aircraft carrier in the future.

Originally posted on my Blog at www.barackobama.com

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