Thursday, October 8, 2009

Politics War and Obama

by Ronnie Spangler

When politicians tie the hands of our fighting men and women fighting the politicians war, the only result can be they will lose the war at a devastating price in the number of casualties and American prestige around the world.

With the debate still continuing in the White House time is running out for our men and women fighting the war in Afghanistan. President Obama, whether he believes it or not, is looking weak in the eyes of the world. Over the weekend former Prime Minister Brown of Australia said America is not in this war alone. He predicted if America listens to Generals Petraeus and McChrystal he is confident our allies will contribute more troops to counter and fight back Taliban forces. Other allied leaders have also quietly stepped up to the plate. They understand they cannot lose Afghanistan to the Taliban. They also understand it is not Al Qaeda that poses the biggest threat of defeat in Afghanistan but it is the Taliban.

In some of my articles I pointed out that no country has ever been successful in invading and conquering Afghanistan and this is true. However I have also pointed out that we can win in Afghanistan much the same as we have won in Iraq. We are not invading Afghanistan with the intentions of conquering the country trying to install our own form of culture, religion and set of values on the people of Afghanistan. The goal is to deny a repressive and tyrannical form of government from returning to power, thereby giving Al Qaeda another safe haven to attack America and our allies. Al Qaeda has been severely wounded and once the Taliban has been defeated we can finish off Al Qaeda in Pakistan once and for all. If the Taliban is successful in forcing us out and returning to power, this goal will not be obtained.

One of the biggest condemnations on the way President Bush and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld handled the war in Iraq and Afghanistan was they were trying to fight a war on the cheap. The critics were right and the majority of the critics were Democrats. Now we seem to be hearing these same critics saying the war in Afghanistan is too expensive and maybe we can do it cheaper. The surge in Iraq and the consequences of the surge have not been that long ago. We need to look at the lessons learned and apply them to Afghanistan. President Obama cannot let politics interfere with his decision, either he is going to support our Commanders on the ground or he is not. There cannot be only half measures taken when fighting a war. Either you go all in or you get out and face the consequences for retreating.

Vice President Biden and General Jones are wrong in their belief they can win in Afghanistan by using a small counter insurgency, special forces and air power tactics alone. The type of terrain our men and women face in Afghanistan will not support this type of campaign. We may be able to deny the Taliban from controlling the capital of Afghanistan but we could not stop them from attacking our forces whenever and wherever they please. The number of Taliban is too large and is constantly growing in numbers. A perfect example is the latest attack on our outpost along the border. The number of Taliban attacking the small number of US forces resulted in not only US casualties but closing the outpost and giving the Taliban better access to a border crossing. Our military
defeated the attackers and drove them back but it came at a high price to the small US forces that were defending this outpost. If President Obama follows the Biden Jones plan we can see more and more of this type of combat happening on a daily basis.

Another problem with this type of plan is our allies will not climb on board with this type of strategy. They will begin to withdraw as the Taliban gains more control of Afghan territory. Our allies have always looked to America for leadership in the world. When it comes to military matters and fighting wars they have always looked to America to take a leading role. NATO has never won a war that has not had America out front leading the fight. A large portion of NATO forces are non combatants and see their role as peace keepers restricted by their individual countries from taking a offensive combat role in NATO actions. We enter a conflict under the NATO flag but in the end the fighting is done by the US and a handful of true dedicated allies. The French proved their worth in Rwanda when they stood around and watched as genocide was committed but they were restricted from taking any combat action to counter the mass killings.

If President Obama decides he is smarter than his commanders and decides to give them only a portion of what they request to win this war then he will be guilty of the same criticism the Democrats threw at President Bush and Secretary Rumsfeld. Time is running out and we cannot afford indecision by the Commander In Chief. Either we are in this war to win it or throw up the flag of retreat and get out. We owe our military that much.

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