That said, it's past time to record some observations on flotsam carried before my eyes and ears on the River De Nile this past week.
Karl Eikenberry, the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan and a member of the Obama war council, is the latest insider to dissent against
Earlier in the week, another old Afghanistan hand now in Obama's camp, entered caveats. General James Jones, in his capacity of supreme allied commander of NATO, has dealt with Afghanistan and Hamid Karzai at length. This week in an der Speigel interview, General Jones shared his misgivings pertaining to escalation:
Generals always ask for more troops. Take it from me.Then there were also the cautions of former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and ex-Secretary of State) Gen. Colin Powell, also experienced with Afghanistan. (A comment earlier in these pages has estimated that only 13% of the preconditions of the Powell Doctrine are currently in effect in Afghanistan.) Powell's cautions on ABC News to Obama went like,
... and of course when I was there I asked for more troops. When we started in 2003, we had to develop a plan. So by definition, you have to ask for people.
I believe we will not solve the problem with troops alone. The minimum number is important, of course. But there is no maximum number, however. And what's really important in Afghanistan is that with this new administration we insist on good governance, that it be coordinated with economic development and security, and that we have much, much better success at handing over responsibility for these three things to the Afghans.
we cannot solve the problems with only military forces. You can keep on putting troops in, and you could have 200,000 troops there and the country will swallow them up as it has done in the past. There are many empires who tried to make Afghanistan a stable and different country ....
This ... isn't just a one-time decision. This is the decision that will have consequences for the better part of his administration. So Mr. President, don't get pushed by the left to do nothing; don't get pushed by the right to do everything. You take your time and you figure it out. You're the commander-in-chief and this is what you were elected for .... not be rushed into a decision because this one is the decision that will have consequences for years to come ....And President-sElect Hamid Karzai? Even he had his opinions. Karzai told PBS's The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer:
If you decide to send more troops or that's what you feel it is necessary, make sure you have a good understanding of what those troops are going to be doing and some assurance that the additional troops will be successful ..... You can't guarantee success in a very complex theater like Afghanistan and increasingly with the Pakistan problem next door, but you have to have some sense of what these additional troops will be able to do.
And secondly, take your time, and third, you've got to ensure that you're putting this commitment on a solid base, and the base is a little soft right now. We've got a president in Afghanistan that had a rough election; a lot of corruption associated with the election; a lot of corruption in the government .... And so the president has to measure that; what kind of base is he putting this new strategy on because it isn't just what we do; what do the Afghans do ....
The West is not here primarily for the sake of Afghanistan. It is here to fight terrorism. The United States and its allies came to Afghanistan after September 11. Afghanistan was troubled like hell before that, too. Nobody bothered about us.That happens to be the fooking truth. Why else should the North Atlantic Treaty Organization bother? If Karsai would have told the whole truth, he would have added that the USA is only staying in Afghanistan because of American domestic political calculations.
Make that "miscalculations".
To catalog Republicant complaints of Obama's alleged "dithering" on McChrystal's pet project's requirements would unnecessarily prolong today's column. Suffice it to say, the transparent GOP goal is to have Afghanistan transformed into Obamastan before the next presidential election.
I wish I could credit the bipartisan-compliant Obama for having sufficient prescience to escape the fate they have in mind for him.