Sunday, March 29, 2009
President Obama appeared on Face The Nation this morning. An excerpt from the transcript:
Schieffer: Are you giving our commanders now in Afghanistan a green light to go after these people even if they're in what used to be safe havens in Pakistan?
President Obama: Well, I haven't changed my approach. If we have a high-value target within our sights, after consulting with Pakistan, we're going after them. But our main thrust has to be to help Pakistan defeat these extremists.
Again, one of the nice benefits of President Obama being the CINC is relative golden silence from the Left when the president publicly discusses pursuing high-value targets across the border into Pakistan.
I am not sure what is involved in the actual logistics of "within our sights, after consulting with Pakistan," but it sounds challenging. I can't tell from the language whether that means being on the coms with Islamabad while in hot pursuit, or something else.
Whether President Obama's Pakistan/Afghanistan plan may actually be effective is a topic for another post, but he at least sounds as though he wants to engage the enemy, which must cause some degree of cognitive dissonance among a particular group of his supporters.
If you're going to question the left's comfort level everytime President Obama says out loud what Senator Obama said , on the campaign trail, I fear you'll end up a tired and tiresome blogger.
You really should go back and listen to a debate or two so that you can sound more knowledgeable about your POTUS' stated positions.
He at least sounds as though he wants to engage the enemy. And so "our main thrust has to be to help Pakistan defeat these extremists."
It almost sounds as if Pakistan wants our help. If so, why is it so damn hard for them to, you know, er, sound that way?
Foreign policy isn't my strong suit, but what exactly are we trying to achieve in Afghanistan? I suspect that Obama wants a distraction from our domestic issues, so he'll raise Afghanistan as an issue when he wants to. Simplistically, don't we just want to contain problems in Afghanistan -- i.e., no export -- rather than think we can win some ill-defined objective on the ground.
That is certainly less depressing than what Gates was quoted as saying here.
Anon 2:26 - I am well aware of then Senator Obama's remarks during the campaign and at the Democratic debates, when he was jumped on by some of his fellow candidates for telegraphing what he would do with respect to camps in Pakistan's FATA. My post is not intended as a criticism of President Obama. I do want to think about the chances of success for his plan, and I am mindful of DF82's comments in my previous LionHawk post, as well as Michael Yon's thoughts on his blog (to which I linked); and, I am re-reading the two accounts ("First In" and "Jawbreaker") of the early days of the conflict in 2001-02 for background.
Understanding that it is rare for any voter to agree with 100% of his or her chosen candidate's positions, the never-ever-use-military-force wing of the Democratic Pary is sizeable enough that its silence is now welcomed for the time being. That is the point of the post. That said, many Democrats welcomed the use of force in 2001 (the "shoulder to shoulder" language was used in those halcyon days).
In the run up to the use of force in Afghanistan a month or so after 9-11, I received a couple of the emails that were then going viral, basically pleading for the U.S. to not take any military action whatsoever in Afghanistan -- that it would have no effect in terms of increasing the safety of the U.S. or the rest of the world, and it would be horrible for the Afghan people, who had already suffered greatly for the last few decades. The gist of it was that "violence never solves anything."
I remember thinking at the time, well, if we're not going to use force in this situation, it's hard to envision a time when we would -- maybe these emailers would prefer to stand down about 90% of the Defense Department.
Anon/Link, Obama has made very clear what the mission is in Afghanistan. it's the same one we had when we went there in 2002, and before we left to rebuild Iraq: to disrupt, dismantle and defeat Al qaeda.
So let me be clear: Al Qaida and its allies — the terrorists who planned and supported the 9/11 attacks — are in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Multiple intelligence estimates have warned that Al Qaida is actively planning attacks on the U.S. homeland from its safe-haven in Pakistan. And if the Afghan government falls to the Taliban — or allows Al Qaida to go unchallenged — that country will again be a base for terrorists who want to kill as many of our people as they possibly can.
So I want the American people to understand that we have a clear and focused goal: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat Al Qaida in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future. That is the goal that must be achieved. That is a cause that could not be more just. And to the terrorists who oppose us, my message is the same: we will defeat you.
I think it's time for Obama and his minions to get off the "Iraq was an unfortunate detour and distraction" routine.
It was in Iraq that we learned (perhaps 'relearned' is the better term, if one credits our involvement in S.E. Asia whatsoever) how to develop, employ, and successfully execute a counterinsurgency strategy. Iraq also gave us a now hardened (not broken) fighting force, perhaps the best the world has ever seen. And last but not least, it gave us General David Petraeus who, God help him, is being asked to do what he did in Iraq all over again.
Oh yeah, one more thing. It also gave our present CinC the example of a determined, and ultimately successful, predecessor.
Let's see ... we can't find Osama in Afghanistan but somehow we are going to "disrupt, dismantle and defeat" Al qaeda on the ground there.
We need a policy of border containment and counter-intelligence, it seems to me. Instead, we'll be playing wack-a-mole.
It was in Iraq that we learned (perhaps 'relearned' is the better term, if one credits our involvement in S.E. Asia whatsoever) how to develop, employ, and successfully execute a counterinsurgency strategy.
Sirius, the problem was that it took nearly FOUR years for the Bush Admin to acknoweldge that we even needed a counter-insurgency strategy. Kudos for changing course, and throwing Rumsfeld out the day after the Republicans lost the mid-term '06 elections but that's a helluva lot of lost time, blood and treasure to pretend that we were winning a war that we never prepared for to begin with.
I believe Obama committed a major blunder with his statement.
The UAVs used in the attacks are based in Pakistan itself. We have explicit permission from the government. For local reasons the govt. publicly protests the attacks. They are in a dangerous and precarious position.
Obama's statement about conferring completely bollixes this arrangement. It puts the Pak govt in a pickle. If attacks take place they no longer have deniability. They gave permission. I predict there will be no more attacks.
The surge was impossible before it was actually started. Its success depended upon the following:
The training and equipping of the army and the police. Alone we did not have sufficient forces to do the hold part.
The change in sentiment of the people. Anbar Awakening. The people are now feeding intelligence to us rather than the enemy.
The elimination of thousands of the enemy.
The establishment of a stable government which gave people some confidence that there would not be Dark Night when the US eventually withdrew.
Without these circumstances the surge would have been folly.
Mero, perhaps if Bremer had not thwarted Rumsfeld's desire to transition the Iraqis to self-government earlier the insurgency wouldn't have become the problem it ended up being. Or maybe if Bremer hadn't unilaterly made the decision to dissolve Saddam's Army...
But it's easy to throw stones in hindsight, and, actually, I think the decision to be rid of the taint of Saddam sooner rather than later was overall the right one.
Saddam's army disbanded itself. There were mass desertions at the end of kinetic operations.
Even if it hadn't it would have been useless if not worse. It was trained in Russian military doctrine. Its officer corps was Sunni and screened for loyalty. Its enlisted men were Shia and used as cannon fodder.
Roy - I think there were significant desertions during kinetic operations.
Also, the argument at the time for not disbanding what was left of the Iraqi Army was simply that it took a group of young men, put them on a payroll, and gave them something to do that was consistent with U.S. objectives. Demographers have always warned about the dangers (in any country) of a bulge of young men with nothing much to do. It's hard to know even with the benefit of hindsight what would have happened had the army not been disbanded.
Link, beating this drum again
We were -- and are still -- the only nation in the world that can project half way around the world the kind of military power we did in Iraq. Russia could attack a neighbor -- China's ambitions still exceed its reach.
Yet I find little joy in the fact that we made Saddam's army run away from us.
Iraq was a strategic blunder, possibly of epic proportions. With our current financial pickle ... and with Obama in the White House, we're running some risk that we may lose America on the home front. We're also facing what could be a challenging decade in foreign policy from a weakened position. We wouldn't be in this position, if Bush had been true to conservative principles -- including by not picking a fight with Iraq when he did.
Obama is being tough in Afghanistan for domestic reasons. I don't expect it to end well.
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As someone once said to Rooster Cogburn," That's a mighty bold statement from a one-eyed fat man!"
One could just as well say that without the surge, none of the events on your list would have occurred..
Or maybe if Bremer hadn't unilaterly made the decision to dissolve Saddam's Army...
Saddam's army disbanded itself. And yet the meme persists to the contrary as just one more indictment of George Bush.
Make up your mind Sirius.
I specifically said that the surge was dependent upon those as antecedents.
"One could just as well say that without the surge, none of the events on your list would have occurred.."
I'm sorry. The statement baffles me.
And by the way, I am fat, old and my eyes aren't what they used to be but I daresay that I's a better shot than John Wayne.
"Iraq was a strategic blunder, possibly of epic proportions."
Not necessarily. If it works out (and we won't know that for sure for a generation or so) it might be the best thing to ever happen to the Middle East.
The purpose of the Iraq war was to be a catalyst for change in the region. That, it most certainly has been. We just have to wait and see if it's going to be positive democratic change. Right now, things are looking pretty positive.
"The purpose of the Iraq war was to be a catalyst for change in the region. That, it most certainly has been. We just have to wait and see if it's going to be positive democratic change. Right now, things are looking pretty positive."
Agreed, the purpose was to change the region.
I have a slight nit to pick with the democracy thing. The democracy justification was ex post facto - a political argument justifying our continued presence in Iraq.
The actual reason was to drive home the point that attacking the United States, its interests and its allies will bring death and destruction on your sorry little asses.
This is called deterrence.
Further, our presence in Iraq, the Indian Ocean and Afghanistan plus our growing alliance with India has surrounded Iran and Pakistan, the main dangers in the world, with overwhelming military forces.
You can throw out philosophy and idealism here. This is human history tooth and claw. The civilized world has been at war with Islam for 1400 years. Charles Martel turned back the Muslims just short of Paris in 732. The Muslims besieged Vienna in 1683 and were barely repelled. Our own US Navy was founded in 1794 specifically to counter the depredations of the "Musselmen" - the Barbary Pirates.
The world has always been at war. There have been a few short periods in history where, in some places, there have been peace and tranquility. Precious few.
Hat to be such a downer but I attribute some of my longevity to being aware that the wolves are never far from the door.
Correction to previous post.
"Hat to be such a downer but I attribute some of my longevity to being aware that the wolves are never far from the door."
What I meant to write:
"Hate to be such a downer but I attribute some of my longevity to being aware that the wolves are never far from the door, nor the barbarians from the gates".
Lesson for the young'ns - gin can cloud your mind.
ISI has been coopted by jihadists. They'll never let us go after anybody important, or worse they'll direct us at fake targets. Consulting with Pakistan equals failure, but then I think that's the entire point of the exercise.
The purpose of the Iraq war was to be a catalyst for change in the region.
That maybe today's explanation--and probably not the last--but it was hardly the expressed reason we sent 160,000 plus troops to a country that didn't attack us. Bush could never have sold his war on the premise that he wanted to invade a country "to be a catalyst for change in the region."
"The actual reason was to drive home the point that attacking the United States, its interests and its allies will bring death and destruction on your sorry little asses."
There were many side-effects of the invasion, (major military presence in the region, plant banner of democracy, shut down WMD capabilities, intimidate regional enemies and restore our credibility, etc) But the decision to destroy and replace its government was a calculated decision aimed at greater things. Though it may act as a deterrent as well, now.
"Bush could never have sold his war on the premise that he wanted to invade a country "to be a catalyst for change in the region."
Yep. He did give it as a reason, (most notably as a speech to the American Enterprise Institute) but not the primary reason. Such is politics.
Yep. He did give it [starting a war as a catalyst for change] as a reason, (most notably as a speech to the American Enterprise Institute) but not the primary reason. Such is politics.
Was that before or after we found no WMD? Just as I thought.