DEBORCHGRAVE Commentary (on Afghan quagmire): Necessity vs. choice

http://www.washtimes.com/news/2009/aug/24/war-of-necessity-or-choice/ 
 
Monday , August 24 , 2009

War of necessity or choice?

Arnaud de Borchgrave

Afghanistan is not only President Obama’s war , but also what he now calls “a war of necessity.” For the head of the Council on Foreign Relations , Richard N. Haass , who was head of policy planning at the State Department in the run-up to the Iraq war , who voted for Mr. Obama , Afghanistan is a “war of choice , not of necessity , ” that he fears we will learn to regret. This also reflects public opinion: Half the American people are against the Afghan war.

Mr. Haass’ latest book , “War of Choice , War of Necessity , ” makes clear that Iraq was a war of choice , not necessity. It also was a huge distraction from the Afghan war , which got shortchanged as hundreds of billions of dollars were poured into the Iraq conflict.

What is now “necessity” for Mr. Obama in Afghanistan is “choice” — and a bad one at that — for the American people. Little understood is how it became necessity for the president. He tried to make it palatable to his left wing by saying Afghanistan is where al Qaeda — the monsters of Sept. 11 , 2001 — were located. Actually , that’s where they are not located. They are in Pakistan ‘s tribal areas. But had the president come out against war in Afghanistan during last year’s campaign , just as he opposed the war in Iraq since he became a senator in January 2005 , he most probably would have lost the election. Sen. John McCain would have accused him of weak-kneed pacifism and of adopting the proverbial head-in-sand posture of an ostrich that would then look surprised when it got kicked in the most obvious place.

Now that Afghanistan is Mr. Obama’s necessary war , what are his chances of emerging as the wise warrior? If he persuades the American people that we are engaged there for the long haul , as we were in Germany and Japan after World War II , there would be a better-than-even chance of developing a viable state sans Taliban. It would cost hundreds of billions more dollars. But Afghanistan is arguably the world’s most backward national entity , where warlords remain to be convinced that the United States and its friends and allies hold the winning ticket.

As long as Taliban and al Qaeda enjoy privileged sanctuaries in Pakistan ‘s tribal areas , the United States and NATO will be stuck in a no-win posture in Afghanistan . But Pakistan ‘s army chief , Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani , and his troops have been busy pursuing Taliban terrorists in Pakistan proper. And the much-promised Pakistani offensive against the Afghan wing of Taliban in North and South Waziristan , two of the seven tribal agencies , is yet to materialize. The cynics in Pakistan argue that Taliban is bound to wear down the allies in Afghanistan over the long haul. And when Taliban was last in power in Afghanistan (1996-01) , Pakistan enjoyed a secure western front for its defense in depth against Pakistan ‘s principal military concern — India .

Gen. David H. Petraeus , the Middle Eastern theater commander , says he thinks the current major Afghan commitment by the democratic camp should continue five to 10 more years — “whatever it takes.” But half the American people are already opposed to the Afghan war , and off-year elections are 16 months away. NATO allies and friendly nations engaged there — a total of 40 countries — are all eyeing exit expectations by 2011. Few are committed to combat against the Taliban insurgency.

NATO’s outgoing supreme commander , Gen. John Craddock , now retired , says it took him 18 months to get allies to curtail caveats against offensive operations from 80 to 73. But allies say Gen. Craddock failed to point out that the United States also has a monumental caveat: U.S. units are forbidden by law to serve under non-American command. Taliban commanders are skillful at exploiting such caveats.

Afghanistan’s much-anticipated elections do not a democracy make. Taliban’s bombs-vs.-ballots threats predictably kept the turnout low. But donkeys delivering ballot boxes in the foothills of the Hindu Kush were an important first step on the road out of the Middle Ages. Many nations — Spain , South Korea , Singapore — as well as Taiwan have demonstrated that democracy without a prosperous middle class is an exercise in self-delusion. In Afghan-istan so far , the only prosperity is in the cultivation of opium poppies.

Afghanistan’s $3 billion drug traffic also funds Taliban insurgents’ logistics section. In combat , their weapons frequently are more modern than what the Afghan national army takes into combat.

Arnaud de Borchgrave is editor at large of The Washington Times and of United Press International.

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http://www.upi.com/Emerging_Threats/2009/08/21/Commentary-Necessity-vs-choice/UPI-55001250870039/

DEBORCHGRAVE Commentary (on Afghan quagmire): Necessity vs. choice

By ARNAUD DE BORCHGRAVE
UPI Editor at Large

Half the American people are now against the war in Afghanistan , which President Obama now describes as a war of necessity. He may have lost the election last November if he had come out against both the Iraq and Afghan wars. His opponent would have described him as a pacifist afraid to stand up to America ’s enemies.

WASHINGTON , Aug. 21 (UPI) — Afghanistan is not only President Obama’s war , but it’s also what he now calls “a war of necessity.” But for Richard Haass , the head of the Council on Foreign Relations who was head of policy planning at the State Department in the run-up to the Iraq War and who voted for Obama , Afghanistan is a “war of choice , not of necessity , ” which he fears we shall learn to regret. This also reflects public opinion: Half of the American people are now against the Afghan war.

Haass’ latest book “War of Choice , War of Necessity” makes clear Iraq was a war of choice , not necessity. It was also a huge distraction from the Afghan war that got short-changed as hundreds of billions of dollars were poured into the Iraqi conflict.

What is now “necessity” in Afghanistan for Obama is “choice” — and a bad one at that — for the American people. But little understood is how it became necessity for the president. He tried to make it palatable to his left wing by saying Afghanistan is where al-Qaida — the monsters of Sept. 11 , 2001 — were located. Actually , that’s where they are not located. They are in Pakistan ‘s tribal areas. But had the president come out against war in Afghanistan during last year’s campaign , as he did against Iraq ever since he became a U.S. senator 2005 , he most probably would have lost the election. Sen. John McCain would have accused him of weak-kneed pacifism and of adopting the proverbial head-in-sand posture of an ostrich who would then look surprised when it got kicked in the most obvious place.

Now that Afghanistan is Obama’s necessary war , what are his chances of emerging as the wise warrior? If he persuades the American people that we are engaged there for the long haul , as we were in Germany and Japan after World War II , there would be a better-than-even chance of developing a viable state sans Taliban. And it would cost hundreds of billions more dollars. But Afghanistan is arguably the world’s most backward national entity where warlords remain to be convinced that the United States and its friends and allies hold the winning ticket.

As long as the Taliban and al-Qaida enjoy privileged sanctuaries in Pakistan ‘s tribal areas , the United States and NATO will be stuck in a no-win posture in Afghanistan . But Pakistan ‘s army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and his troops have been busy pursuing Taliban terrorists in Pakistan proper. And the much-promised Pakistani offensive against the Afghan wing of the Taliban in North and South Waziristan , two of the seven tribal agencies , is yet to materialize. The cynics in Pakistan argue the Taliban is bound to wear down the allies in Afghanistan over the long haul. And when the Taliban was last in power in Afghanistan (1996-2001) , Pakistan enjoyed a secure western front for its defense in depth against Pakistan ‘s principal military concern — India .

U.S. Gen. David Petraeus , the Middle Eastern theater commander , believes that the current major Afghan commitment by the democratic camp should continue five to 10 more years — “whatever it takes.” But half the American people are already opposed to the Afghan war and off-year elections are 16 months away. NATO allies and friendly nations engaged there — a total of 40 countries — are all eyeing exit expectations by 2011. Few of them are committed to combat against the Taliban insurgency.

NATO’s outgoing supreme commander , Gen. John Craddock , now retired , says it took him 18 months to get allies to curtail caveats against offensive operations from 80 to 73. But allies respond Craddock failed to point out the United States also has a monumental caveat: U.S. units are forbidden by law to serve under non-American command. Taliban commanders are skillful at exploiting these caveats.

Afghanistan ‘s much-anticipated elections do not a democracy make. Taliban’s bombs-vs.-ballots threats predictably kept the turnout low. But donkeys delivering ballot boxes in the foothills of the Hindu Kush were an important first step on the road out of the Middle Ages. Many nations — Spain , South Korea , Singapore , Taiwan — have demonstrated that democracy without a prosperous middle class is an exercise in self-delusion. In Afghanistan so far , the only prosperity is in the cultivation of opium poppies. Afghanistan ‘s $3 billion drug trade also funds Taliban insurgents’ logistics section. In combat , their weapons are frequently more modern than what the Afghan national army takes into combat.

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Public Opinion in U.S. Turns Against Afghan War
 

Pat Buchanan: Afghanistan an Unwinnable war?

http://america-hijacked.com/2009/08/17/pat-buchanan-unwinnable-war-patrick-j-buchanan-msnbc-com/  

 

Soldier’s death brings UK Afghanistan toll to 200:

http://america-hijacked.com/2009/08/16/soldiers-death-brings-uk-afghanistan-toll-to-200/

The US/UK went into Afghanistan because of 9/11 as 9/11 (and the earlier tragic attack on the WTC in 1993) tragically took place because of US support for Israel’s brutal occupation of the Palestinians (look up ‘Israel as a terrorist’s motivation’ in the index of James Bamford’s ‘A Pretext for War’ book and take a look at the following ‘What Motivated the 9/11 Hijackers?’ youtube as well): 

What motivated the 9/11 hijackers? See testimony most didn’t:
 
 
So the reason US/UK troops went into Afghanistan to begin with is because of Israel (as we are in Iraq because of Israel as well – in accordance with the ‘A Clean Break’ agenda):

‘A Clean Break’:


http://neoconzionistthreat.blogspot.com/2008/02/clean-break.html

Wag The Dog, Again (another war for Israel coming right at US!): 

 
 

 

What happened to the antiwar movement? Cindy Sheehan hits ‘hypocrisy’ of Left, Democratic allies:
 
 
Here is a tiny URL for the above one:

Must read article by former CIA field officer Philip Giraldi who was the foreign policy advisor to Ron Paul during his latest presidential run:
Vanishing Liberties

 

6 Responses to “DEBORCHGRAVE Commentary (on Afghan quagmire): Necessity vs. choice”

  • Patriot says:

    Observers Point to Widespread Fraud in Afghan Vote
    Abdullah Vows ‘Responsible’ Challenge if Karzai Steals Election

    http://news.antiwar.com/2009/08/22/observers-point-to-widespread-fraud-in-afghan-vote/

    Taliban cut off Afghan voters’ ink-stained fingers, election observers say
    The observers say they confirmed two such cases in southern Afghanistan and were investigating a third in an eastern province.

    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/afghanistan/la-fg-afghan-election23-2009aug23,0,1689966.story

  • Patriot says:

    August 23, 2009
    Could Afghanistan Become Obama’s Vietnam?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/23/weekinreview/23baker.html

    By PETER BAKER
    WASHINGTON — President Obama had not even taken office before supporters were etching his likeness onto Mount Rushmore as another Abraham Lincoln or the second coming of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

    Yet what if they got the wrong predecessor? What if Mr. Obama is fated to be another Lyndon B. Johnson instead?

    To be sure, such historical analogies are overly simplistic and fatally flawed, if only because each presidency is distinct in its own way. But the L.B.J. model — a president who aspired to reshape America at home while fighting a losing war abroad — is one that haunts Mr. Obama’s White House as it seeks to salvage Afghanistan while enacting an expansive domestic program.

    In this summer of discontent for Mr. Obama, as the heady early days give way to the grinding battle for elusive goals, he looks ahead to an uncertain future not only for his legislative agenda but for what has indisputably become his war. Last week’s elections in Afghanistan played out at the same time as the debate over health care heated up in Washington, producing one of those split-screen moments that could not help but remind some of Mr. Johnson’s struggles to build a Great Society while fighting in Vietnam.

    “The analogy of Lyndon Johnson suggests itself very profoundly,” said David M. Kennedy, the Stanford University historian. Mr. Obama, he said, must avoid letting Afghanistan shadow his presidency as Vietnam did Mr. Johnson’s. “He needs to worry about the outcome of that intervention and policy and how it could spill over into everything else he wants to accomplish.”

    By several accounts, that risk weighs on Mr. Obama these days. Mr. Kennedy was among a group of historians who had dinner with Mr. Obama at the White House earlier this summer where the president expressed concern that Afghanistan could yet hijack his presidency. Although Mr. Kennedy said he could not discuss the off-the-record conversation, others in the room said Mr. Obama acknowledged the L.B.J. risk.

    “He said he has a problem,” said one person who attended that dinner at the end of June, insisting on anonymity to share private discussions. “This is not just something he can turn his back on and walk away from. But it’s an issue he understands could be a danger to his administration.”

    Another person there was Robert Caro, the L.B.J. biographer who was struck that Mr. Johnson made some of his most fateful decisions about Vietnam in the same dining room. “All I could think of when I was sitting there and this subject came up was the setting,” he said. “You had such an awareness of how things can go wrong.”

    Without quoting what the president said, Mr. Caro said it was clear Mr. Obama understood that precedent. “Any president with a grasp of history — and it seems to me President Obama has a deep understanding of history — would have to be very aware of what happened in another war to derail a great domestic agenda,” he said.

    Afghanistan, of course, is not exactly Vietnam. At its peak, the United States had about 500,000 troops in Vietnam, compared with about 68,000 now set for Afghanistan, and most of those fighting in the 1960s were draftees as opposed to volunteer soldiers. Vietnam, therefore, reached deeper into American society, touching more homes and involving more unwilling participants. But the politics of the two seem to evoke comparisons.

    Just as Mr. Johnson believed he had no choice but to fight in Vietnam to contain communism, Mr. Obama last week portrayed Afghanistan as the bulwark against international terrorism. “This is not a war of choice,” he told the Veterans of Foreign Wars at their convention in Phoenix. “This is a war of necessity. Those who attacked America on 9/11 are plotting to do so again. If left unchecked, the Taliban insurgency will mean an even larger safe haven from which Al Qaeda would plot to kill more Americans.”

    But while many Americans once shared that view, polls suggest that conviction is fading nearly eight years into the war. The share of Americans who said the war in Afghanistan was worth fighting slipped below 50 percent in a survey released last week by The Washington Post and ABC News. A July poll by the New York Times and CBS News showed that 57 percent of Americans think things are going badly for the United States in Afghanistan, compared with 33 percent who think they are going well.

    That growing disenchantment in the countryside is increasingly mirrored in Washington, where liberals in Congress are speaking out more vocally against the Afghan war and newspapers are filled with more columns questioning America’s involvement. The cover of the latest Economist is headlined “Afghanistan: The Growing Threat of Failure.”

    Richard N. Haass, a former Bush administration official turned critic, wrote in The New York Times last week that what he once considered a war of necessity has become a war of choice. While he still supports it, he argued that there are now alternatives to a large-scale troop presence, like drone attacks on suspected terrorists, more development aid and expanded training of Afghan police and soldiers.

    His former boss, George W. Bush, learned first-hand how political capital can slip away when an overseas war loses popular backing. With Iraq in flames, Mr. Bush found little support for his second-term domestic agenda of overhauling Social Security and liberalizing immigration laws. L.B.J. managed to create Medicare and enact landmark civil rights legislation but some historians have argued that the Great Society ultimately stalled because of Vietnam.

    Mr. Obama has launched a new strategy intended to turn Afghanistan around, sending an additional 21,000 troops, installing a new commander, promising more civilian reconstruction help, shifting to more protection of the population and building up Afghan security forces. It is a strategy that some who study Afghanistan believe could make a difference.

    But even some who agree worry that time is running out at home, particularly if the strategy does not produce results quickly. Success is so hard to imagine that Richard Holbrooke, Mr. Obama’s special representative for Afghanistan, this month came up with this definition: “We’ll know it when we see it.”

    The consequences of failure go beyond just Afghanistan. Next door is its volatile neighbor Pakistan, armed with nuclear weapons and already seething with radical anti-American elements.

    “It could all go belly up and we could run out of public support,” said Ronald E. Neumann, a former ambassador to Afghanistan and now president of the American Academy of Diplomacy. “The immediate danger is we don’t explain to Americans how long things take. I certainly get questions like, ‘Is the new strategy turning things around? Is the civilian surge working?’ We’re not going to even get all of those people on the ground for months.”

    Others are not so sure that the new strategy will make a difference regardless of how much time it is given. No matter who is eventually declared the winner of last week’s election in Afghanistan, the government there remains so plagued by corruption and inefficiency that it has limited legitimacy with the Afghan public. Just as America was frustrated with successive South Vietnamese governments, it has grown sour on Afghanistan’s leaders with little obvious recourse.

    Lt. Col. Douglas A. Ollivant, a retired Army officer who worked on Iraq on the National Security Council staff first for Mr. Bush and then for Mr. Obama, said Afghanistan may be “several orders of magnitude” harder. It has none of the infrastructure, education and natural resources of Iraq, he noted, nor is the political leadership as aligned in its goals with those of America’s leadership.

    “We’re in a place where we don’t have good options and that’s what everyone is struggling with,” Colonel Ollivant said. “Sticking it out seems to be a 10-year project and I’m not sure we have the political capital and financial capital to do that. Yet withdrawing, the cost of that seems awfully high as well. So we have the wolf by the ear.”

    And as L.B.J. discovered, the wolf has sharp teeth.

  • Patriot says:

    Dutch wrote:

    As if by magic, the elections in Afghanistan are running neck and neck. Just like the previous three US elections and the last Mexican election. Never before in history have elections run so close, so often. but in a rigged election, one wants to keep the illusion of a close race so that plausible deniability and cognitive dissonance run in your favor. If it looks close, it’s easy to both nudge it in your favor and to sell a rigged race as simply a close race. When GWB was way behind in the pre-election polls and had lost in the always reliable exit-polling, he had mysteriously pulled off an upset victory in a “close” election.. twice. (Once with the help of a Supreme Court that ruled not to continue a very revealing re-count of shady ballots managed by party insiders and the second time with the help of newly installed Diebold electronic voting machines that were well documented as being quite tamperable.)

    Look at the exit polls to find out who the people voting really wanted to win. There you’ll find out who really won, usually by a noticeable margin.

    Note: I cut and paste the story as well as give a link to the original because more often than not nowadays, the link will be soon diverted to a different article or a newly re-written and titled version of the story. Try this at home, click the link in the title at the end of the day or try again in a day or two and notice if the article has been 1)pulled; 2) re-written or 3) linked to another story altogether but on the same subject. This has been happening quite a bit lately.
    Check out a sizzling AP story as it pops up. Cut and paste the article, with it’s title and a link to the article. Later click the link and find the changes in or the removal of the article. The more volatile the heading or the more damning the facts in the article, the more likely it is to be revised or yanked.

    -Dutch

    Karzai, top rival run about even in Afghan returns

    By JASON STRAZIUSO and ROBERT H. REID, Associated Press Writers Jason – 24 mins ago

    KABUL – President Hamid Karzai and his main rival, former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, were running virtually even Tuesday in the first fragmented returns from last week’s Afghan election, raising the possibility of a runoff that could drag the process out for months.

    The figures came from 10 percent of the more than 27,000 polling sites nationwide — too small a sampling either to draw a conclusion about the outcome or silence criticism that the ballot was marred by fraud and Taliban violence.

    The U.S. and its NATO partners had hoped Thursday’s election would produce a clear winner with a strong mandate to confront the growing Taliban insurgency, widespread corruption, narcotics and a stagnant economy.

    Six other presidential candidates, echoing Abdullah’s earlier claims, charged Tuesday that widespread fraud occurred on election day — mostly in Karzai’s favor.

    The allegations threaten to discredit the eventual winner, stoke violence and cast doubt on the credibility of the Afghanistan democracy at a time when President Barack Obama and other Western leaders are considering investing more resources in an increasingly unpopular war.

    Underscoring the crisis, a cluster of vehicle bombs detonated nearly simultaneously near a Japanese construction company in the southern city of Kandahar, killing at least 41 people, flattening buildings and sending flames shooting into the sky. The thundering explosion occurred just after nightfall Tuesday in a district that includes U.N. facilities and an Afghan intelligence office. Kandahar is the spiritual home of the Taliban.

    Also in the south, a bombing killed four U.S. service members Tuesday. At least 172 American troops have died in the Afghan war this year — the deadliest since the conflict began in 2001.

    The Independent Election Commission announced that Karzai was leading with 40.6 percent and Abdullah was trailing with 38.7 percent of the roughly 525,000 valid votes counted so far. Most of the votes came from Kabul, nearby Parwan and Nangarhar provinces, Kunduz and Jowzjan provinces in the north and Ghor province to the west.

    However, the figures did not include votes from 12 of the country’s 34 provinces, including some where Karzai was expected to run strong.

    In the volatile south, the homeland of Karzai’s Pashtun ethnic group, less than 2 percent of the votes in Kandahar province had been counted and no votes in Helmand had been tallied, the commission said.

    Karzai would expect to do well in both provinces, suggesting his returns could go higher. However, turnout was believed to have been low in those two provinces because of Taliban attacks and intimidation as well as heavy fighting between the insurgents and U.S.-led forces.

    It is unclear whether turnout in the Pashtun south will be enough to significantly offset Abdullah’s strength in the mostly Tajik and Uzbek north, which are generally more peaceful.

    Abdullah, son of a Pashtun father and a Tajik mother, is widely seen as the northern candidate because of his close association with the northern-based alliance that overthrew the mostly Pashtun Taliban in the U.S.-led invasion of 2001.

    Both Karzai and Abdullah had claimed they were leading in early returns, but no official figures have backed those assertions.

    The U.S. government urged candidates to wait for more complete results. U.N. officials have also urged caution, fearing that a drumbeat of allegations and recriminations will poison the political atmosphere at a time when the part of society opposed to the Taliban must draw together.

    “We call on all parties to refrain from speculation until national results are announced,” State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said.

    Some Afghans in Kabul expressed weariness with political bickering and hoped a runoff would not be necessary. If neither Karzai nor Abdullah gets more than 50 percent of the vote, the two will face each other in a runoff, probably in October.

    “We’re tired,” said Shirin Agha, 40, who sells melons along a Kabul street. “I’m fed up with all these politicians.”

    Nevertheless, allegations of vote rigging mounted Tuesday.

    Abdullah showed reporters a packet of ballots with an official stamp on the back — used to mark cast ballots — nearly all checked for Karzai. He also showed video of what he said were Karzai supporters in eastern Ghazni province marking dozens of ballots for their candidate, and a picture of a polling site in the south showing people he said were Karzai campaign officials looking over the shoulders of voters.

    “If the widespread rigging is ignored, this is the type of regime that will be imposed upon Afghanistan for the next five years and with that sort of a system, a system that has destroyed every institution, broken every law,” Abdullah said at a news conference just before the results were announced.

    The election commission said it fired four election workers in northern Balkh province for attempted fraud. Photographs showed three trying to vote with multiple cards, while the fourth was ordering voters to cast ballots for a specific candidate, said Daoud Ali Najafi, the commission’s chief electoral officer.

    The six other presidential candidates who cited fraud said in a statement that dozens of complaints filed could affect the outcome of the election “to the point that many are seriously questioning the legitimacy and credibility of the results.”

    “Fraud in the elections could result in increased tension and violence,” the six added.

    The most prominent of the six was Ashraf Ghani, a Western-educated former finance minister and World Bank official. Ghani earlier released a statement listing the complaints submitted by his campaign, including gunmen telling voters to cast ballots for Abdullah and officials stuffing ballot boxes in favor of Karzai.

    As of Monday evening, the independent Electoral Complaints Commission said it received more than 50 allegations of fraud that could affect the election results if true. Final results cannot be certified as legitimate until the complaints commission rules on these cases.

    Afghan officials say they are confident that algorithms, double-blind computer entries and other modern methods will catch 90 percent of the fraud

  • Patriot says:

    Barack Obama says Afghanistan is a “war of necessity”. Here’s six reasons why it isn’t.

    http://stopwar.org.uk/content/view/1456/27/

  • Patriot says:

    Obama’s Road to war (It’s Not Just Afghanistan):

    http://america-hijacked.com/2009/08/28/obama%e2%80%99s-road-to-war/

  • Patriot says:

    “US soldiers find themselves being terrorists in Afghanistan”

    http://www.rt.tv/Top_News/2009-08-27/us-soldiers-terrorists-afghanistan.html?fullstory

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