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January 13, 2009

Now They Tell Us: WaPo, Setting Bar Lower for Obama, Tells Us that US "Will Never Have Enough Troops" to Elminate Taliban

Securing a country with so much space, so many mountains, and so many people is a difficult thing, it turns out. And bringing genuine democracy to such a backwards place might be impossible.

Please do note that all of this was equally true a year ago -- but the media then was busy telling us that Afghanistan could be secured fairly easily if only we "hadn't taken our eyes off the ball" and fought the War in Iraq. Now that Obama's President, the media are falling over themselves to repeat his expectations-lowering spin and impress us all as to how terribly difficult this mission really is.

All it took was an election to inject some nuance into the media's war coverage. Winning an unconventional war in a backwards, landlocked country where the enemy can easily seek safe haven in a country we can't quite invade is hard? Who knew?

President-elect Barack Obama intends to sign off on Pentagon plans to send up to 30,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan, but the incoming administration does not anticipate that the Iraq-like "surge" of forces will significantly change the direction of a conflict that has steadily deteriorated over the past seven years.

Instead, Obama's national security team expects that the new deployments, which will nearly double the current U.S. force of 32,000 (alongside an equal number of non-U.S. NATO troops), will help buy enough time for the new administration to reappraise the entire Afghanistan war effort and develop a comprehensive new strategy for what Obama has called the "central front on terror."

The additional troops aren't there to win a war, but, it seems, to provide breathing room for a "comprehensive new strategy."

Meaning what? Deal-making with the Taliban? That's not said but I think the premise is being offered to support that. If the best we can hope for is a negotiated deal with the Taliban, gee, we should take that. It's the best we can hope for, after all.

With conditions on the ground worsening by nearly every yardstick last year -- including record levels of extremist attacks and U.S. casualties, and the expansion of the conflict across Pakistan and into India -- Obama's campaign pledge to "finish the job" in Afghanistan with more troops, money and diplomacy has encountered the daunting reality of a job that has barely begun.

Diplomacy? With warlords, sure. We do that. But what new diplomacy is The One considering?

Since the November election, Obama has been flooded with dire assessments of the war. A National Intelligence Estimate warned that a reconstituted al-Qaeda leadership, dug into the mountains along the Afghan-Pakistani border, continues to plan attacks against the United States and Europe. The Bush White House delivered a major review of Afghanistan last month that echoed that judgment, acknowledged that a modern Afghan democracy -- stable and free of extremists -- may be both unattainable and unaffordable, and said that the United States may have to accept trade-offs among priorities.

But I thought all we had to do was surrender in Iraq.


The military is as concerned about the mission of additional troops as it is about the size of the force and is looking for Obama to resolve critical internal debates, including the relative merits of conducting conventional combat vs. targeted guerrilla war. With limited resources, should the military concentrate on eliminating a Taliban presence -- a task for which most think the United States and its allies will never have enough troops -- or on securing large population areas?

I'm stunned at how adult the conversation has suddenly grown. No more childish neener-neener sniping and baiting from the MSM. It's a tough job, it may take a long time, and it won't be pretty.

Bush has been saying that for seven fucking years.

It's only now the media suggests he was telling the truth. Just as he walks out the door.

Thanks to Thomas.

Hey... You know what else is hard? Making the right fiscal and monetary moves to repair a badly-damaged economy.

Only now is that hard, though. After 9/11, it really should have been automatic that Bush restored the country to the white-hot bubble economy that Clinton enjoyed for eighteen months or so.

Honestly. That bubble was unprecedented in American history. Every economist said, at the time, it was a historical anomaly that would not last long. And it didn't.

And yet that was the bar set for success for Bush. Bush had to not only deliver a vigorously expanding economy (which he did) and low unemployment rates (which he did) and controlled inflation and interest rates (which he did).

He did not only have to match Clinton's two-term average economic performance (which he did).

He had to specifically match the eighteen-month unsustainable bubble economy Clinton enjoyed for a very brief time at the the tail end of his expansion. Failing to do so would make him a miserable failure.


Does anyone expect the MSM to insist that Obama match that eighteen months of overheated and unsustainable expansion to be deemed a success?

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posted by Ace at 02:22 PM

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