Friday, September 11, 2009
Obama's Afghanistan War
by Ron Spangler
President Obama has accepted responsibility for Afghanistan and is now beginning to realize a fraction of the reality of being Commander In Chief when your country is at war.
He is finding out just how easy it is to sit back and throw out theories on how to fight a war. He is beginning to feel the pressure from knowing that the decisions he makes will determine how the war ends. Will it be a real victory in Afghanistan or like so many other nations have found out, a loosing venture.
It is a well documented fact that no nation or leader has ever conquered the terrain and tribal areas of Afghanistan. History is full of attempts from Alexander the Great to the Soviet Union, but all have failed.
If you study warfare and how campaigns have been won, a few things stand out amongst the most successful leaders.
They choose the time and place to fight their battles carefully.
They identify, study, and get to know their enemies strength and weakness.
They study the history and all the past battles their enemies have fought.
They study the terrain and environment where their troops must fight.
They prepare for battle by winning the people of the area over to their side.
They make certain they have the support of their own people to fight a long and costly war.
They define for their military and people at home exactly what victory will look like.
They find determined and experienced military leaders to fight the war and they do not second guess or try to run the battle from the White House.
They understand that wars and battles are fluid and the situation can change at any time.
Will President Obama be successful in Afghanistan where everyone else has failed? If the far left base of his party has anything to do with it he will fail. Already there is grumblings within the Democrat Party for getting out of Afghanistan now. With the news that there may be a call from commanders on the ground for an additional 30 to 40 thousand troops, opposition in the Congress by Democrats has been loud and clear.
During his time as Senator, President Obama had the luxury of being able to second guess President Bush about Iraq. Senator Obama didn't understand one of the first rules in warfare, pick your time and place to fight. President Bush knew from history fighting a Muslim supported Al Qaeda in their own mountainous terrain would be costly in American lives and the outcome could not be predicted. He also knew America's military had very good experience fighting in the deserts and cities around Iraq. Bush hoped that going into Iraq would draw Bin Laden into Iraq and out of Afghanistan. He counted on Iraqis to be grateful for ousting Hussein and thought they would join in the fight against Al Qaeda. Unfortunately everything didn't work out. Al Qaeda did send fighters to Iraq and it did quiet down in Afghanistan. Bin Laden even said Iraq was the central war for the Middle East.
Iraq has settled down after a large number of Al Qaeda and Al Qaeda supporters have been killed. They misread the Iraqi people and the people finally turned against them. Iraqi's began to support the Iraqi military and our military. When President Bush supported Gen Petraeus' call for the surge it was over for Al Qaeda and the insurgency.
Can President Obama completely pull out of Iraq and send our forces to Afghanistan, No. This would not be wise for two reasons. The biggest problem is Iran. If we pull out too soon Iran will move on Iraq. They are still creating problems by sending military arms into Iraq trying to keep the insurgency alive. If we are not there Iraq will have no choice but to fight another war with Iran or succumb to being a puppet state to Iran. The other problem is the American people will not stand for our military to leave Iraq only to go into Afghanistan. The American people will not stand for higher casualties in a poor country like Afghanistan. If the media starts showing a large number of American Flag draped caskets coming from Afghanistan President Obama will find himself in the same position as President Bush.
Back to the question, Can Obama win his war? Only time and the definition of victory in Afghanistan will tell. If the American people are willing to stay for another 10 years and rebuild the roads, schools, government buildings and businesses while our military kills off all of the Taliban and Al Qaeda insurgence, then maybe. If we are willing to sacrifice up to 30 thousand American lives over that 10 year period, maybe. If however victory will be defined by killing Bin Laden or our leaving Afghanistan upon his death, then Obama will loose his war. If this happens Afghanistan will revert back to a Taliban state with thousands upon thousands of Afghans killed for supporting American or NATO forces. Iran will most likely try to influence whatever government that forms in Afghanistan and it will be a haven for America hating terrorist.
It is clear that only a few friends will help in the fight that is undoubtedly going to become more costly in lives and treasure. Most NATO forces will not fight so it will be left up to us and a small number of friends to take the fight to the Taliban and whats left of Al Qaeda. By the summer of 2010 President Obama will know whether he will win or loose his war. If American casualties increase and Americans continue to turn against President Obama's policies at home and abroad, he will loose his war.
President Obama has declared Afghanistan to be his war and if we win or loose it will be his legacy. Time for blaming the previous administration is over. This is not a game played by kids on the computer, it is real life and people will die from the decisions President Obama makes. We can only hope they are the right decisions.