Sunday, November 01, 2009

The Afghan Conundrum

The US casualties in the last four months in the Afghan campaign are in part the result of more aggressive campaign to root out Taliban; we saw a similar spike in casualties during the surge in Iraq. However, those casualties are weighing heavily on the Obama Administration and their decision making process as to whether to increase troop numbers to root out the Taliban or pursue a reduced troop commitment while increasing reliance on air strikes, particularly via UAVs.

The problem is the perception of dithering by the Administration is going to lead to problems on the battlefield as the Taliban watch the news as well. They see that they may be about to outlast the US efforts and if enough casualties are imposed on US forces, Obama may go the route of limiting/curtailing any troop increase or opt to slowly reduce troop numbers in Afghanistan despite an ongoing presence of Taliban/al Qaeda in Afghanistan and along the Afghan/Pak border.

At the same time, the Pakistanis are continuing their military efforts in the frontier provinces and taking casualties, even as they're dishing it out to the Taliban.

The base problem with the Obama Administration is that they're looking to put political expediency ahead of strategic and tactical military concerns. Even if that isn't their intention, the appearance of just that is strong enough to warrant concern and question the Administration's commitment to the Afghan campaign.

Moreover, it will be interesting to see how the Administration addresses the Afghan government following Abdullah's dropping out from the runoff election. The Administration was quick to accept the bogus election results in Iran with a bunch of tyrannical mullahs who had no problem slaughtering opposition members marching in the street demanding that the vote be recounted. Here, what will the Administration do? Will they shape their Afghan policy and curtail efforts or will they accept the disputed results and work towards improving the situation?

If they curtail the efforts and somehow use the disputed elections as a wedge, it would be extremely troublesome particularly because the Administration would be pursuing a strategy that undermines our military efforts, distances ourselves from our allies, and once again shows that the Administration is more willing to deal with our enemies than to stand by our allies, even when our allies aren't quite up to snuff on matters like elections.

No comments: