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Saturday, September 5, 2009

Fighting With One Hand Tied Behind Our Backs

Afghanistan is spiraling out of control. Deaths are mounting and the security situation is deteriorating. It's clear we need a new strategy. The General there, General McChrystal, has given his outline.

After two of the deadliest months of the war in Afghanistan, the commander of U.S. forces there said Monday that “success is achievable” but will require a change in

“The situation in Afghanistan is serious, but success is achievable and demands a revised implementation strategy, commitment and resolve, and increased unity of effort,” said Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of nearly 60,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The assessment was made as part of a new strategic review McChrystal submitted Gen. David Petraeus, the head of Central Command, and to NATO.

The General was vague on whether or not he would need more troops. That maybe because the White House has made such a request a non starter.

The prospect that U.S. Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal may ask for as many as 45,000 additional American troops in Afghanistan is fueling growing tension within President Barack Obama's administration over the U.S. commitment to the war there.

On Monday, McChrystal sent his assessment of the situation in Afghanistan to the Pentagon, the U.S. Central Command, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and NATO. Although the assessment didn't include any request for more troops, senior military officials said they expect McChrystal later in September to seek between 21,000 and 45,000 more troops. There currently are 62,000 American troops in Afghanistan.

However, administration officials said that amid rising violence and casualties, polls that show a majority of Americans now think the war in Afghanistan isn't worth fighting. With tough battles ahead on health care, the budget and other issues, Vice President Joe Biden and other officials are increasingly anxious about how the American public would respond to sending additional troops.

On top of this, Democrats in the Senate are also ready for a fight if the the White House asks for more troops.

Increasing congressional discord over the next U.S. steps in Afghanistan, coupled with a spike in violence there, is deepening the political divide on the war and how many troops are needed to fight it.

Key Senate Democrats signaled Friday that any push by the White House to send more troops to Afghanistan is likely to hit resistance. And their unease was fueled by another bombing, that left as many as 70 dead, including civilians who were killed when the U.S. blew up tanker trucks hijacked by the Taliban.

So, when the situation is most dire, the White House and their allies in the Congress want our troops to fight with one hand tied behind their backs. I am no military expert and so I won't presume to tell General McChrystal how to fight in Afghanistan. Then again, neither is President Obama or "key Senate Democrats". Yet, they presume to tell the General on the ground how to fight.

Throughout the campaign, then candidate Obama implied that Afghanistan was the "good war". He told America that in Afghanistan he was committed to victory. Now, he won't even commit to victory there. On top of this, he won't give the Generals on the ground the resources necessary to win. If you aren't willing to fight to win, then it's time to withdraw. I don't agree with George Will, but if the administration isn't committed to victory, then there's no reason to be in Afghanistan at all.

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