Wednesday, September 15, 2010

US endgame in Afghanistan: The evil of three lessers

By Eric Walberg
Online Journal Contributing Writer

"In his school-boyish Oval Office “Mission accomplished!” speech 31 August, United States President Barack Obama heaped faint praise on Bush’s invasion of Iraq, averring that no one could doubt Bush’s support for the troops, love of his country and commitment to its security when he wrote this most “remarkable chapter in the history of the United States and Iraq.” True, it was written at a “huge price” to the US (apparently it was provided free of charge for the fortunate Iraqis).....

The lack of fighter jet and battleship for his “Mission accomplished!” sound bite was just as symbolic as was Bush’s flight suit hubris. Obama is looking more and more like a White House caretaker, a prisoner of the Pentagon, if, in fact, he ever had any policy freedom in the first place. Hillary famously cracked, “Whatever Stanley [McChrystal] wants, give it to him.” Now, with the unceremonious dumping of McChrystal, Dave will most certainly get what he wants, and an early exit from Afghanistan is not on his checklist. On the contrary, he now wants to surge the surge with an extra 2,000 troops. So what are Obama/Petraeus’s real options?.....

The US has three choices at this point: the easy one is to just pull out and leave the Taliban to disarm the Western-created warlord militias and to work with the less odious members of the Karzai regime to create a viable regime in a peaceful, if very poor and devastated country.....

Its second option is to let the regional governments take over in stabilizing the current regime. This, however, would require a revolution in US thinking: mend fences between it and Iran. Iran is eager and willing to do just this and has been since it provided the US with valuable assistance in routing the Taliban after 9/11. Iran supports the Karzai regime, which is dominated by the Persian-speaking Tajiks, and strongly opposes making any deals with the Taliban. In a meeting in New Delhi in August, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammed Ali Fathollahi said, “Empowering the military forces of Afghanistan and also the police of Afghanistan are points on which countries of the region should help, and Iran voices its readiness to help in this regard. . . . We don’t have any doubt in the capability of the government of Afghanistan.”

Sounds like Petraeus/Obama, right? The US plans to spend $11.6 billion next year and another $25b by 2015 precisely to create an Afghan army and policy force to support Karzai. Iran has offered to help do this. It holds the fate of this US endgame in its hands....."

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