Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Es-ca-late good times, come on!

Well, the news is in and much to everyone's surprise, America is escalating the war in Afghanistan. And because it was a hard decision and stuff and President Obama isn't, like, totally beholden to the military and junk, he's only sending 30,000 troops. Hell, only adding 30k? That's practically like bringing all the troops home. Anyway, he'll explain it all tonight in his speech from West Point. Here's the main thrust.
In bringing the total American force to nearly 100,000 troops by the end of May, the administration will move far faster than it had originally planned. Until recently, discussions focused on a deployment that would take a year, but Mr. Obama concluded that the situation required “more, sooner,” as one official said, explaining the some of the central conclusions Mr. Obama reached at the end of a nearly three-month review of American war strategy.
The strategy aims to prevent Al Qaeda from returning to Afghanistan, whose territory it used to prepare for the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and to keep Taliban insurgents from toppling the government there. The 30,000 new American troops will focus on securing a number of population centers in Afghanistan where the Taliban are strongest, including Kandahar in the south and Khost in the east, the officials said. The American forces, they said, will pair up with specific Afghan units in an effort to end eight years of frustrating attempts to build them into an independent fighting force.
The point, besides the President burnishing his "not a pussy" credentials, is for take less committed Taliban members and try to reintegrate them into society and give them paying jobs while at the same time holding major population centers in an attempt to give Afghans a chance to build up their infrastructure, economy, and government without bomby/shooty interference. At the very least it'll give the Taliban nicer shit to shoot at and bomb after this "don't call it a surge" surge ends. Ideally the Taliban will be weakened and the Afghans will have an easier enemy to deal with that they can fight on their own. You know, usually I'd laugh at that, but after hearing that joke so many times over so many wars and military actions on so many continents over so many decades, it stops being funny.

On the plus side, President Obama will be giving us a time table. Ultimately it'll be a time table for him telling us why we can never leave Afghanistan, but for the moment we can all pretend we'll be out of there sometime before our grandkids are old enough to fight there. So it's basically another round of "No, see, this time our plan is even better" sprinkled with a liberal dose of "No, we're totally going to be able to train Afghans into a fighting force that is sufficient enough to completely take over fighting an enemy that the most technologically superior army in the world has been baffled by", some "this blank check I'm handing them isn't a blank check", with a little "While it may look like I'm doing all the same stupid stuff that Bush did, I'm totally doing it in a smart way", finally finishing up with "It's all going to work out, baby. You can trust me."

I'm sure this is all a great idea and will work out fine. You really need a full decade to really understand the ins and outs of a war.

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