Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Afghanistan: How many is enough?

The New York Times is reporting that Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, has said "success in Afghanistan would probably require more troops and certainly much more time". I would like him to be honest with Congress, the administration and the public and say exactly how many more troops, and how much more time he thinks it will take for "success".

Frankly, I am of the belief that matter how many more sons and daughters America and NATO decide to sacrifice in Afghanistan, there can never be "success" as I would define it, and I doubt that most people would consider what Mike Mullen is calling "success", truly successful. This brings us to the issue of what is success in Afghanistan, Iraq or Pakistan? What does it look like? Does anyone really believe that if we send another 100,000 or another 500,000 or even another 1,000,000 NATO soldiers to Afghanistan that it will transform the country into a Western style democracy where the biggest problems are which intern the President may have "not had sexual relations with"?

And if we are to have any trust in these generals, admirals and other military commanders, then they should say exactly how many more troops they need and for how long. Instead, we see them making their requests in a political framework, asking for 10-20,000 troops at a time. This is dishonest and erodes the public trust as well as prolongs these conflicts. It seems astonishing to me that all these military officials, who probably served during the Viet Nam war would still be unable to grasp the concept that America is not good at occupying other countries.

From the day American troops entered Afghanistan and Iraq it seemed to me that we were just beginning a countdown (or a countup of bodies) until the troops would have to be pulled out and the world would agree that the missions were giant failures and gross expenditures of lives and treasure.

If anyone believes that another 30,000 or even 300,000 troops in Afghanistan will truly achieve "success" then have I got some real nice shorefront property to sell you on Baffin Island.

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