Sunday, December 6, 2009
Even Defense Secretary Gates Says 18 Months In Afghanistan Is Unrealistic
By GARY BAUMGARTEN
Paltalk News Network
President Obama says that, as he is sending 30,000 more troops into Afghanistan, he's also going to start pulling them out in 18 months.
"Start" being the operative word. As we're seeing in Iraq, getting into a war is much easier than getting out.
The idea is to train Afghan troops and turn over security of the nation to them - then get out of dodge. Sounds suspiciously similar to George W. Bush's Iraq strategy.
Meanwhile, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who says he will "spare no effort" in implementing the Obama plan, says it will take at least two years to train Afghan troops to step into the U.S. and NATO military boots.
And now, even Defense Secretary Robert Gates, is already cautioning against holding firm to the 18-month timetable.
Gates says Americans should expect a significant U.S. military presence in Afghanistan for two to four years. Skeptics will suggest that even four years, much less two, is an estimate on the low side. But even if we can start removing "significant" numbers of troops in two years - it's pretty obvious that Obama's 18-month estimate is overly optimistic.
What's interesting is that as a U.S. senator, Barack Obama opposed the Bush surge in Iraq. Then - as president - he decided he needed an Iraq-like troop surge in Afghanistan.
Now, it's true that perspectives change for presidential candidates once they take office. It's also true that candidate Obama didn't get the same security briefings that President Obama does.
But this is a major change is strategy for this president - a president who was propelled into office in large part by the support of those who were sick of the Iraq war - and who expected he would - not only get the troops out of Iraq more quickly - but certainly wouldn't send more troops into harm's way in another theater of battle.
This was a president who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for actions not yet taken - then ordered more troops into Afghanistan on the eve of his accepting the prize.
All candidates, of course, make promises they can't keep once elected. But these failed promises aren't as benign as a chicken in every pot, a car in every driveway. This is about the most important and difficult decision a president can make - sending troops into battle.
No wonder so many of us are disgusted over the poliltical process. It's disingenuous at best.
And one might wonder - since Obama's Iraq exit strategy is really Bush's - and his Afghan strategy mirrors that of Bush in Iraq - whether there's really a lick of difference between the two parties.
U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Efren Lopez