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Thursday, September 17, 2009

This Is No Time To Go Wobbly, Mr. President

Reported at Bloomberg.com:
Obama Delays Afghanistan Troop Decision as Criticism Deepens 
Sept. 17 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama said he’ll hold off deciding whether to add more U.S. troops to the war in Afghanistan, as Democratic lawmakers raised concerns that he lacks a clear plan and measures of progress.
“You have to get the strategy right and then make the determinations about resources,” Obama told reporters at the White House yesterday following a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. “I am going to take a very deliberate process in making those decisions.”
My objection to this is that an over-arching strategy is actually the least important aspect of our presence in Afghanistan.  Our simple continuing presence there will eventually bring victory, and our departure will bring defeat.

Even if the Afghan Army and other forces were staffed, equipped, and trained at the levels desired, we could not walk away and expect to win.  The most important thing we are accomplishing in our counterinsurgency, apart from the obvious need to provide security, is a transfer of cultural values.

It is a simple thing to recruit, equip, train, and deploy a soldier.  It is quite another to change the culture of the military so that the soldier is empowered to make decisions and take action appropriate to the circumstances.  This is not merely difficult, it is impossible unless the folks we are training have prolonged, in-depth, and personal exposure to our own system.

Afghan culture is built on relationships.  Successful institutions are built on relationships.  The recovery of Afghanistan depends upon tens of thousands of relationships between our people over there and their people over there.

Mr. President, commit to strengthening our relationship.  Send the troops that the military is asking for.  You have the plan you need -- commit the resources.

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