Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Thoughts on Obama's Speech at West Point on The Future of The War in Afghanistan

What surprised me the most about the speech was how anticlimactic it was. It took Obama more than three months to settle on 30,000 troops and an 18 month time frame to start to withdraw (with some wiggle room)? Obama is right to surge, but should have committed more troops. His top general said he needed a minimum of 40,000 to win, a full third more than Obama has committed. McChrystal has backed off that statement (see included quote), but it is hard to fathom that he would have been off by that many initially. Obama should not have set a deadline to start the withdrawal of forces, even if there was a line thrown in to give him some wiggle room. The enemy now knows winning becomes a waiting game, and our ally may perceive this as abandonment and realistically consider cutting a deal with the enemy. We will have to see how this plays out; Obama may end up sending more troops and staying well past the deadline. What is important now is the perception. Unfortunately, the perception may be that of a wavering commitment which could have disastrous repercussion.

Ace seems some similarities to a past conflict; "Among his "Big Ideas" is Vietnamization. Which Nixon did with Vietnam-- making the Vietnam War more dependent on the Vietnamese. Which makes sense, except for the minor fact 1, they weren't ready and knew they would lose, so 2, they had no reason to fight and awfully big reasons to ingratiate themselves to the soon-to-be-victors by selling information and such to the North.

Basically, when you tell your ally you're bugging out in a couple of years, and they know when you do bug out they lose, you have incentivized them to begin defecting to the enemy early.

It's not just that he's proposing Vietnamization -- it's that he's doing so with a hard-date for his "exit strategy." Which Nixon did too, for all intents and purposes, making it clear he didn't want to win the war, he just wanted a "decent interval" between America's exit and the North's victory.

McChrystal has stated "The Afghanistan-Pakistan review led by the President has provided me with a clear military mission and the resources to accomplish our task. The clarity, commitment and resolve outlined in the President's address are critical steps toward bringing security to Afghanistan and eliminating terrorist safe havens that threaten regional and global security." (via). I hope that he is not shading the truth for the President and has somehow revised down significantly the real number of forces he needs to win the war.

Full text of Obama's speech.
Highlights of Obama's speech

More thoughts at http://pajamasmedia.com/instapundit/89324 including a word count "“‘I’ – 45, ‘Afghanistan’ – 39, ‘Victory’ – 0.”".

Past related posts:
Berman Post: Robert Gates - 'Obama Can Not Wait Troop Decision on Afghan Government Legitimacy'
Berman Post: Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai Questions if US is a Reliable Partner
Berman Post: President Obama Likely to Make Afghan Troop Decision Between November 7 And 11
Berman Post: Karzai Declared Afghan President After Abdullah Drops Out
Berman Post: Obama to Reject All Afghanistan War Options
Berman Post: Obama to Reject All Afghanistan War Options
Berman Post: Obama to Send 34,000 Additional Troops to Afghanistan?

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