global war on terror solutions

Can 30,000 More Troops “Fix” Afghanistan?


As Obama shows he doesn’t have greater problem solving ingenuity than his predecessor, the chant of “Hope and Change” is now recognized for the gimmicky election relic that it is.  Post 9-11, not only did the U.S. Government fail to attack the root of the problem, they failed to target the right country.

9-11 was masterminded by Al-Qaeda and Saudi jihadis – not the Taliban.  The Taliban are a whole different can of worms, based in one of the most strategically difficult terrains and sprung out of a culture that is tribal to the core.  For eight years now, the U.S. has tried to oust the Taliban, facilitate the formation of an Afghan government, and work toward bringing greater security in the area.

While there have been slight peaks of improvement, the situation in Afghanistan is quickly collapsing once again. The Taliban have regrouped and regained footing, there are no marked freedoms for women, attacks are still a daily occurrence, and the fledgling faith in the Afghan government has long since disappointed – add to it the growing belief among native Afghans that “Bin Laden” was a scapegoat used to justify an Afghan invasion.

So what’s Obama’s solution to the problem? Throw more money and more man power at the mess by sending 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan.

Rep. John Murtha (PA), a vocal war critic and senior House Democrat overseeing military, predicts a $40 billion bill to finance the additional deployments. The money would make it possible to have a total of 100,000 U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan by fall of 2010 – an embarrassingly high cost considering the U.S. economy’s own consistent decline.

Forty billion dollars for a penny-in-the-well wishful thinking called “strategy”.  This isn’t a solution, it’s a quick and expensive bandage to “fix” a problem that Obama and his administration clearly don’t understand or appreciate.

But Defense Secretary Robert Gates stated, “We cannot defeat Al-Qaeda and its toxic ideology without improving and stabilizing the security situation in Afghanistan.”

Gates’ logic fails miserably. He presupposes that sending 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan would secure and stabilize the nation.

It will not.  The only thing it does is ensure we’ve wasted $40 billion dollars and unnecessarily jeopardized the lives of our soldiers.  Yes, the infusion of additional troops can put a soldier at every street corner, but for how long? And how does their presence do anything to combat the Taliban in the long term, or in a way that will make an ideological difference.

You kill one Taliban or Jihadis and another one takes its place. You litter the land with soldiers, and the Taliban retreat only to resurface at a more opportune time.  It’s not a species you’re trying to control or eradicate, it’s a thought process. To “fix” Afghanistan, you need the troops to help maintain security, but what you need to do is empower people in Afghanistan who think differently.

What you need to stimulate is a culture of ideas, free-thought and enterprise.  Economic, religious and social freedoms are the elements that will win the long-term war.  But these have to be safeguarded, fostered, and kindled until they’re strong enough to stand on their own.

Instead of injecting the land with troops that don’t blend in with the Afghan people, that are reminders of a war, that will ultimately leave – instead, inject the land with people who will live there and help work to rebuild it in the long run.  Give them an incentive, let them be vessels for change – a catalyst source of free thinking individuals, Western educated, freedom-loving native Afghans (or anyone willing) who will blend in with the people, understand the culture, have a vested interest and who have a more real long term shot of changing Afghanistan that flushing billions of dollars.

There are hundreds if not thousands of Afghan refugees who were forced to flee Afghanistan in the last century.  Many of them would gladly go back and help rebuild a real infrastructur in what they still see as their country.  Give them an incentive; offer them protection which in turn will help facilitate military understanding of the land, language and culture which are critical to any real success in the Middle East – especially in Afghanistan.


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