Thursday, February 15, 2007

Too Little, Too Late

We already know how much the Bush administration has screwed up post-war Iraq.

McClatchy says the Bush administration has screwed up Afghanistan too.

The administration has long ignored the problems in Afghanistan (weak Karzai government, resurgent Taliban, border problems with Pakistan, drug traffickers own much of the country, Taliban owns what the drug traffickers don't.)

The administration has long underfunded the mission in Afghanistan (less than $3 billion a year in aid compared to the gobs of money they've been throwing into Iraq.)

The administration has long figured that the mission in Afghanistan is nearly complete (Cheney has often said a future Iraq will look like the success the U.S. has had in establishing a peaceful, stable society in Afghanistan - even though Afghanistan becomes less peaceful and less stable by the week.)

McClatchy says slowly but surely the administration has begun to notice just how precarious the situation in Afghanistan really is. The problem is, it may already be too late to stop the slide without a major input of manpower and resources:

U.S. commanders are bracing for a spring offensive by Taliban insurgents that'll test the staying power of the fragile U.S.-backed Afghan government.

In a sign of the administration's concern, President Bush will deliver a speech Thursday highlighting plans for a dramatic increase in military and economic aid, but skeptics fear that the renewed focus on Afghanistan may be too little and too late.

"We have our finger in the dike because our resources and attention were turned toward Iraq," said Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Pa., a former Navy admiral who served in both conflicts. "This is the real front in the war on terrorism. It's a daunting task, more daunting than it had to be because we let the opportunity almost slip away."

Administration officials and U.S. military commanders agree that Afghanistan is grappling with potentially crippling challenges. Five years after U.S. troops ousted the Taliban regime and its al-Qaida allies in retaliation for the Sept. 11 attacks, Afghanistan is still embroiled in war, terrorism, drug trafficking and instability.

The government of President Hamid Karzai has a shaky hold on power; the Taliban and al-Qaida continue to launch attacks from their haven along the Afghan-Pakistan border; and opium production has increased dramatically. Attacks by Islamic extremists spiked last year, making 2006 the deadliest year since the U.S. invasion.

"A point could be reached at which the government of Afghanistan becomes irrelevant to its people, and the goal of establishing a democratic, moderate, self-sustaining state could be lost forever," Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry, the former top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, told the House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday.

Government officials and outside experts agree that the biggest threat isn't a Taliban military takeover, it's the possibility that the Karzai government could collapse and leave a void for Islamic extremists.

The infuriating thing is that while the wingers at NRO and the WSJ wave their cocks around angry about the administration's alleged capitulation to North Korea and the need to attack Iran before the preznut leaves office (IF he leaves office!), the first war they started - the necessary war in Afghanistan that was meant to take out the sanctuary for the Al Qaeda terrorists who attacked the United States on 9/11 - was never fully brought to a close.

Now the place looks like it's going to be under Taliban management again and the United States doesn't have the resources to suppress the problems and the rest of the world isn't exactly running to help out (And why would they? Except for the Bush Butt Plug Brigade - British Blair and Aussie Howard - the rest of the world hates Bush and Bush hates them. Nobody's jumping at the chance to help Preznut Schmucko out of his self-created mess.)

Despite the mess, we have the preznut telling the world he doesn't have any real proof that the Iranian government is supplying the IED's to kill American troops in Iraq but he "intends to do something about it" anyway - which is a fairly obvious threat that those two carrier groups he's sent to the Persian Gulf might just spring into action sometime soon - and yet the stupid bastard hasn't been able to successfully complete the first two wars he started in Afghanistan or Iraq!

In a world where accountability actually mattered for the power elite, Bush, Cheney, Rice et al. would have been relieved of their power and duties a long time ago and sent to clean up highways of road kill and debris for the next 3-5 years.

reality, what would happen to South Korea if the US pulled its forces from the SK/NK border?

Do you think NK would invade SK? Or do you think SK would invade NK?

We've had 40,000 troops sitting on the border between the two countries since 1953 -- that's almost 54 years.

But I suppose you think we've hung around too long and we ought to let those people handle their own affairs.
There is a powerful debate going on here in Australia at the moment. The fallout from the Obama/Howard tiff could well have turned anti US.
Instead there is a clear partisan divide, that is to say the discussion is not about Americans per se but about US politics. The distinction is clear and refreshing.
At last I'm hearing comments to the effect of Howard alienating himself along with Bush et al.
Pulling forces away from Afghanistan to Iraq has been an interesting talking point for those of us who oppose Bush's policy and one that I think hasn't gotten enough play.

Did you hear about the 172nd being sent to Afghanistan? Using the Risk analogy again, it seems like they are down to moving single armies here and there to barely hold on. Meanwhile, China is amassing huge forces and Russia is recovering.

Quite interesting.

N_S. I'm pretty sure this post was on Afghanistan and not Korea. I just got back from Germany where I saw plenty of U.S. troops. Convoys on the freeway in fact. I was trying to go over the right-wing talking point about Germany and S. Korea in my mind. "Why don't they resent our presence?" Then I remembered: those troops were there to defend against a viable outside threat: the U.S.S.R.

Now they are just part of the economy.
It's good to hear that Howard is having to pay some price for uncritically backing up his Butt Plug Buddy, cartledge.

PT, the Risk analogy of moving single armies is absolutely brilliant! That's exactly it. Need to handle the sectarian violence in a territory? Send in a single army. Need to handle a resurgent enemy in another territory? Send in another single army.

When you're down to sending in single armies to deal with problems that require much more manpower and resources, you truly are fucked.
praguetwin, you wrote:

"N_S. I'm pretty sure this post was on Afghanistan and not Korea."

The point I made should have been obvious to you. The US has many longstanding military involvements around the world that are well accepted.

We arrived in Germany and Korea to fight indigenous foes, defeated them to various degrees and we remained to prevent their re-emergence as well as keeping other aggressors out.

You wrote:
""Why don't they resent our presence?" and...
"Then I remembered: those troops were there to defend against a viable outside threat: the U.S.S.R."

Oh. You mean the same Soviet forces who assisted the Allies in the defeat of nazi Germany who later developed territorial ambitions of their own, which they partially realized when they seized the eastern portion of Europe and held it for several decades.

Let's see, we're in Iraq and Afghanistan attempting to remove not only indigenous foes, but others who are crossing the borders to bring their own havoc and chaos to the battlegrounds.

On that basis, it's obvious you would want the US to maintain a series of military bases in Afghanistan and Iraq for as long as necessary to ensure that neighboring enemies don't conquer the relatively helpless civilians.

A few cruise missiles down the stovepipes of some government offices in Tehran would send a very strong message.
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