Say it ain't so, Barack

So it appears all but certain more troops will be sent to Afghanistan.  President Obama will follow the advice of General McCrystal almost blindly.

Why?  Is he afraid to fail in Afghanistan?  Or is he afraid to stand up to a four-star general?  The problem is that Afghanistan is more complex than some risky, unknown counterinsurgency strategy.  What's needed is better use of what we have already there and even bringing some troops home.

An economic development plan for Afghanistan is the best way to weaken the Taliban.  The Afghan people need an ecenomic alternative; military solutions alone aren't the answer.  In fact, nations who engage in lot of wars decline--they lose power, not gain it.

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The Pakistani Taliban

The Washington Post has an editorial entitled The Taliban Threat. You would think that the Post's editorial board would know a thing or two about the world we live in but apparently they don't.

For years the United States has been trying to persuade Pakistan to fully confront the threat of the Taliban, even as its government and army dithered and wavered. Now that the army at last appears prepared to strike at the heart of the movement in Waziristan, the Obama administration is wavering -- and considering a strategy that would give up the U.S. attempt to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Adopting such a strategy would condemn American soldiers to fighting and dying without the chance of winning. But it would also cripple Pakistan's fight against the jihadists. With the pressure off in Afghanistan, Taliban forces would have a refuge from offensives by Pakistani forces. And those in the Pakistani army and intelligence services who favor striking deals or even alliances with the extremists could once again gain ascendancy. After all, if the United States gives up trying to defeat the Taliban, can it really expect that Pakistan will go on fighting?

The Post might note the following: The Afghan Taliban and the Pakistan Taliban are not one in the same.

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Can We Win in Afghanistan and is it Worth the Price?

Does anyone really think that a continued U.S. and NATO presence will actually achieve anything significant in Afghanistan?  Will an additional 40,000 soldiers defeat the Taliban or will it only lead to more American deaths? It seems that a continued presence in that war-torn nation will only bring grief and death while U.S. and NATO troops continue to try and reign in the Taliban, which can only be compared to the debacle in Vietnam, where trying to track down the Viet-Cong and the NVA could only be compared to trying to herd thousands of cats.

I believe that General McCrystal believes that the Taliban can be defeated but at what cost? We have yet to see a plan that will accomplish this. The situation in that mountainous land where the Taliban appear, kill a few soldiers and damage military equipment and then disappear is shockingly reminiscent of the situation in Vietnam.  Peak US strength in Vietnam in April, 1969 was 543.400. We lost that war. We also tried to win "The hearts and minds" of the people in that war and we never succeeded. Will we repeat the same behavior in Afghanistan and expect different results?

The war is in its eighth year and we are losing ground. The majority of Americans don't support ramping up the war effort. We are in unprecedented times financially. The manufacturing base of the United States has been eroding for almost two decades. We have become a service economy; the only robust area of the manufacturing sector is oddly enough, the military weapons sector. Do our leaders expect this war will lead to a type of federal jobs program? Our military spending accounts for almost half of the military budget of the entire planet. We will spend just about a trillion dollars this year on our military. The defense industry is definitely not experiencing lean times.

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Ambassador Haqqani: Together we can win this war

Pakistan Ambassador Husain Haqqani spoke last week at a public forum at the Denver Art Museum. He discussed the war in Afghanistan as well as Pakistan's own struggles against Islamic militancy and the need for a Marshall Plan for the region, and asked Americans to be patient as Pakistan works to defeat internal militant forces.

Pakistan has stepped up its fight against militant groups this year after decades of ambivalence. For these new efforts to be effective, though, Pakistan requires greater military aid and cooperation from the US and allied forces, said the Ambassador.

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Is Zardari the best hope for a new Pakistan?

Given the discussions about Afghanistan, I thought this was interesting, Jerome.

Yesterday we issued our report card for Pakistan President Zardari's first year in office and, as we stated then, we are very impressed with the changes that we've seen under Zardari compared to previous Pakistani leaders. Militantism that was allowed to flourish under Pervez Musharraf and Nawaz Sharif, both of whom are now facing trial - Musharraf for constitutional violations and Nawaz Sharif for murder and corruption - is being attacked head on by the Zardari administration, an economy in shambles is being rebuilt, a political system left crippled by years of dictatorial rule is being set right, and a friendly hand is being extended to India.

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