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Obama decision - build up in Afghanistan?





deanhills
What do you think Obama's decision will be? Is he going to send more troops to Afghanistan and why the long delay in coming to a decision?

Thomas Friedman, a columnist of the New York Times suggests that the US should reduce its presence in Afghanistan. His argument is that there are more negatives in a long-term commitment in Afghanistan than the negatives in reducing troops. Is Friedman representative of a large number of US citizens who feel the same way?
Quote:
The U.S. military has given its assessment. It said that stabilizing Afghanistan and removing it as a threat requires rebuilding that whole country. Unfortunately, that is a 20-year project at best, and we cant afford it. So our political leadership needs to insist on a strategy that will get the most security for less money and less presence. We simply dont have the surplus we had when we started the war on terrorism after 9/11 and we desperately need nation-building at home. We have to be smarter. Lets finish Iraq, because a decent outcome there really could positively impact the whole Arab-Muslim world, and limit our exposure elsewhere. Iraq matters.

Yes, shrinking down in Afghanistan will create new threats, but expanding there will, too. Id rather deal with the new threats with a stronger America.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/28/opinion/28friedman.html?_r=1&ref=opinion
ocalhoun
We either need an all-out effort for victory, or we need to pull out completely and leave right now.
Trying to do the job with less troops would be extremely bad news for the military.
The balance of power is already touch-and-go; with a reduction, the enemy would have a chance to flourish. How can fewer troops maintain security when the troops we have now barely can?

As for not being able to afford the effort, that $1 trillion spent on 'stimulus' sure would have helped.
deanhills
I wonder whether people realize what "stimulus" it is to the country to employ the whole of the military and the armaments industry, as well as the indirect businesses supporting those industries? People always criticize the presence of troops in the Middle East as a 100% drainer, but is it not what really built the United States up as an enormous player internationally? It's economy took off as a result of supplying World War II allies with necessary tools and equipment following which the United States became one of the leading forces during the war, as well as afterwards?

What I am trying to say here is that financially the war could be in the US domestic interest as well, as it employs people productively, and keeps a number of small and large businesses alive. I doubt this will happen but let's say that Obama withdraws all the troops in Afghanistan and Iraq and these guys come home. Where will they be employed? And if the army will keep them in a barracks of a kind, or a military compound, how productive will they be? What is going to happen to all the industries that will no longer be receiving large orders for equipment etc? Added to the already large number of unemployed?

Also, won't it make nonsense of those who have already died during the war? As well as all the efforts to date?
ocalhoun
deanhills wrote:
I wonder whether people realize what "stimulus" it is to the country to employ the whole of the military and the armaments industry, as well as the indirect businesses supporting those industries? People always criticize the presence of troops in the Middle East as a 100% drainer, but is it not what really built the United States up as an enormous player internationally? It's economy took off as a result of supplying World War II allies with necessary tools and equipment following which the United States became one of the leading forces during the war, as well as afterwards?

Those were good times, just before WWII... Europe was buying US equipment with money they borrowed from US banks.
Quote:

What I am trying to say here is that financially the war could be in the US domestic interest as well, as it employs people productively, and keeps a number of small and large businesses alive. I doubt this will happen but let's say that Obama withdraws all the troops in Afghanistan and Iraq and these guys come home. Where will they be employed? And if the army will keep them in a barracks of a kind, or a military compound, how productive will they be? What is going to happen to all the industries that will no longer be receiving large orders for equipment etc? Added to the already large number of unemployed?

As soon as these two wars are over (assuming that happens under the watch of the current administration), I would expect Clinton-like cuts to the military. Equipment would go un-maintained and rot, money for new procurement would dry up, promotions would slow to a crawl, and the military members with lower performance ratings would be systematically denied any chance to reenlist. I'd also expect several base closures, both at home and overseas.

Cutting the military in response to peace makes sense, but it should be scaled down slowly, with clear priorities given, or it can get ugly.
Quote:

Also, won't it make nonsense of those who have already died during the war? As well as all the efforts to date?

That would be one of the more tragic effects of a pull-out.
However, we need to keep in mind an accounting principle: Future investment in something should never be dependent upon past investment into it.
(Because if it does, that usually leads to you wasting more money on bad investments than you otherwise would have.)
We have to look at the future of the conflict only, or we risk wasting more lives and money, only to pull-out later. (Which is why I hold the position that we should either go all-out for victory, or leave now.)
deanhills
ocalhoun wrote:
However, we need to keep in mind an accounting principle: Future investment in something should never be dependent upon past investment into it.
Right, so Friedman may have a good point. When the damages of investing more troops over a longer time outweigh the damages of the present situation, then the existence of a presence should be carefully considered. There must have been points in the development of the war in Vietnam when the US could have withdrawn, and never did, and it only got worse, by the time the US decided to withdraw all of its troops it had created so much damage in relation for such little in return.
Voodoocat
Obama is in a tough position. Not only has the commander of U.S. troops in Afghanistan requested a large number of additional troops, but NATO and the UN have made the same suggestion. If he fails to support a troop surge, he will have gone against the advice of the military experts. If he supports the surge, he will undoubtably anger his liberal base. Trying to split the difference will anger everyone. It will be very interesting to see how Obama handles this one.
deanhills
Voodoocat wrote:
Obama is in a tough position. Not only has the commander of U.S. troops in Afghanistan requested a large number of additional troops, but NATO and the UN have made the same suggestion. If he fails to support a troop surge, he will have gone against the advice of the military experts. If he supports the surge, he will undoubtably anger his liberal base. Trying to split the difference will anger everyone. It will be very interesting to see how Obama handles this one.
If he should decide differently, i.e. against troops, I hope for his sake that the health care legislation will come through for him, as he has spent so much of the President's energy on this one single aspect of the long list of important priorities for the US, including the budget and economy, that I hope that it will have at least been worth it. Otherwise he is going to be in trouble as a consequence.

Maybe his silence is already a good sign of trouble coming. He does not know which side to move.

If the US should decide to send more troops, hopefully there will be a call on other countries to assist similarly as well, as it is quite unfair for all of the burden to be on the shoulders of the United States. Would be nice to have a joint Indian/Pakistan/Iranian Army as well? Or is that a little bit far-fetched?
ocalhoun
Voodoocat wrote:
Trying to split the difference will anger everyone.

If my reading of him is correct though, that's what he'll do. He'll either leave troop levels the same, add fewer than asked for, or take away a tiny amount.

In other words, he'll do whatever he thinks will keep the balance of political power in his favor; unfortunately, I think he'll base the Afghanistan decision on what will help his push for health care the most.

Politically, the best decision would be to give the asked-for troops. Doing so might reconcile him with the opposition. The far left will get upset with him, but what will they do, really? They're not going to stop supporting him just for that.

deanhills wrote:
Indian/Pakistan/Iranian Army as well? Or is that a little bit far-fetched?

That's very far-fetched. India and Pakistan's political posture towards each other makes that unlikely, and regional stability isn't really in Iran's best interests.
deanhills
ocalhoun wrote:
Politically, the best decision would be to give the asked-for troops. Doing so might reconcile him with the opposition. The far left will get upset with him, but what will they do, really? They're not going to stop supporting him just for that.
Wouldn't he be losing major support in his own party though? From what I can see after he returned from his summer holidays, he has been activitely working on getting their support, they do matter to him quite a lot.
ocalhoun
deanhills wrote:
ocalhoun wrote:
Politically, the best decision would be to give the asked-for troops. Doing so might reconcile him with the opposition. The far left will get upset with him, but what will they do, really? They're not going to stop supporting him just for that.
Wouldn't he be losing major support in his own party though? From what I can see after he returned from his summer holidays, he has been activitely working on getting their support, they do matter to him quite a lot.

Yes, he would loose some support from them... but I suspect he could easily gain that support back with a couple speeches... especially if he came out and said he strongly supported the public option.
Nick2008
I believe Obama is definitely in a tough position right now, he probably will not support the troop surge, but I believe he should.

As stated before, either we finish the war off, or we pull out. There should be nothing in the middle.

One problem that I think is on everyone's mind is that victory in Afghanistan has not been defined. I think all of us can agree that no one, not the US military, not the Russian military, not even the whole world could get rid of every terrorist. It's just impossible.

Maybe capturing Bin Laden would be defined as victory, but that still won't help the growing problem. Capturing the top leader would incite violence of all terrorists to get back at the capturers causing more problems then benefits. It could also make the whole network fail, but I don't see that happening.

Quote:

Obama: 'Victory' Not Necessarily Goal in Afghanistan

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/07/23/obama-victory-necessarily-goal-afghanistan/

If victory is not a goal, then what is?
Nick2008
Obama stated the objective of the war in Afghanistan is to prevent the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan and helping in training of Afghan troops.

One problem with this is that no one knows when enough is enough. When will we know that the Afghan troops are able to handle the situation on it's own?

When will we know that the Taliban is no longer a threat, since they actively have recruitments?

There's simply too much variables and not enough constants in this war. This makes a war have an undetermined end and it's hard to say when it will end.

Either we set a 100%, concrete plan of what to do, when victory is achieved, and how it will be achieved, or we sit here debating whether or not we should send more troops or not.

Just my 2 cents.
deanhills
Nick2008 wrote:
Either we set a 100%, concrete plan of what to do, when victory is achieved, and how it will be achieved, or we sit here debating whether or not we should send more troops or not.

Just my 2 cents.
I thought there already was a plan, a continuation of one that had been formulated during Bush's time. Currently there is a peak in Taliban activity especially in the Northern parts of Pakistan as well, and additional help is needed to tie things over. Obama is trying to make his decision whether to send troops a combined one with formulating a new military strategy. Not only are the United States and its allies fighting terrorism in Afghanistan, but its presence is a key factor in stability in Afghanistan so it is not only about vanquishing terrorism. In addition, a major contribution is being made to Afghan communities in terms of education and providing much needed medical services. These communities had been completely beyond reach before due to lack of infrastructure and roads.

I agree with Ocalhoun, either the United States should withdraw completely (very gradually of course), or it should make a very gigantic effort. Half measures will be bound to fail and be a complete waste in terms of resources and funding. Obama has a real tough decision on his hands.
Voodoocat
Now that Hamid Karzai is the official President of Afghanistan, Obama has no more reason to delay making a decision concerning American military forces in Afghanistan. Its time to make a decision.
Nick2008
deanhills wrote:
I thought there already was a plan, a continuation of one that had been formulated during Bush's time.


There may be a plan, but it's not concrete. If we had a 100%, complete plan don't you think it would already include how many troops would be needed and there would be no point of debating if we need more or less?

As voodoo has said, the Afghan president has been elected, so now the whole light turns from the election to the war. The time to make the decision is now, and if we want to complete the plan, the more troops the merrier.

Half efforts will bring half results.

Full efforts will bring full results.

What's the choice?
deanhills
Nick2008 wrote:
Half efforts will bring half results.

Full efforts will bring full results.

What's the choice?
Probably not to make a decision that would be unpopular. He may make a promise of some troops to be delivered by "X" month in 2010 and after a "review of the situation" (the Democrats are quite good with reviews and postponing reviews to death viz Gitmo) possibly more troops or withdrawal of troops. So the presumption would be one of "full results" but in effect "half results" will be delivered. Obama would stay "firmly" clear from a "firm strategy" so that Obama can avoid from being pulled to shreds by the public and create problems with Obama's lefties in his Party. He is probably going to give the military enough chocolate coated crumbs to keep them going on the strength of hopes of more troops to come after a further review later.
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