Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Folly in Afghanistan

Two articles in today's NY Times capture the dangerous if not mindless geo-military thinking in the US.

Robert Kaplan's article describes how the US is preserving stability in that region appreciated by Afghan's big neighbors: China and India. In particular American troops are protecting a big Chinese mining company. That otherwise interesting article did not draw the obvious question. How come China and India are not asked to contribute to the war effort by sending a few divisions of their own troops to help out Uncle Sam and in that process protect their own national interests? Why is Uncle Sam protecting China's geo-economic position?

Then the next article (here) says (towards the end) that General Petraeus believes the war effort requires a "sustained, substantial commitment" by the US while Obama has refused to reduce its troops size.

Obama is on the verge of making the same mistakes his predecessors made before they escalated in Vietnam. All it takes is a couple of setbacks to push US to send more troops to protect its current troops. And then the logic of escalation will kick in.

If you cannot withdraw when you have 70,000 troops, you are not going to withdraw when you have 100,000 there...and so on -- until disaster strikes.

Holding troops size constant at this point is the worst of all worlds. War is not like the stock market when "buy and hold" is often the best strategy, if your portfolio consists of blue chips when the market is going against you and your stocks are tanking.

In War, your "stocks" are soldiers. They get killed and will not come back. Obama should be talking to the Talibans, China, India, Russia to exit. It is "normal" to think US can stick hack it in Afghanistan forgetting it has a very long history of burying foreign imperial invaders even if US is not after its territory.

Yet, in fact, a holding position there is the equivalent to territorial designs -- in the eyes of the insurgents -- because as General Petraeus says correctly, the effort will have to be sustained and substantial. It has to be that since the effort is also protecting a government the people distrust and hate! They are drug traffickers for goodness sake and corrupt. These Kabul allies will sell out US in a heart beat.

No comments: