In Afghanistan, “there is no memory of a centralized state.” That’s
one of the biggest challenges we face there. Michael
Gordon writes about the other challenges Obama faces, reiterating the often made point
that Afghanistan is not Iraq.
After seven years of war, Afghanistan presents a unique set of problems:
a rural-based insurgency, an enemy sanctuary in neighboring Pakistan, the
chronic weakness of the Afghan government, a thriving narcotics trade, poorly
developed infrastructure, and forbidding terrain.
[...] Declaring Afghanistan to be the central front in the struggle against
terrorism, Mr. Obama talked during the campaign of sending at least two more
combat brigades to Afghanistan â€” in effect staking the reputation of
his new national security team on the outcome of that war, which appears to
be stalemated, at best.
Mr. Obama and his aides have yet to outline a strategy for precisely how
many reinforcements would be sent and how specifically they would be employed.
But the Pentagon is already planning to send more than 20,000 additional
troops in response to a request from Gen. David D. McKiernan, the top commander
in Afghanistan. Pentagon officials say that force would include four combat
brigades, an aviation brigade equipped with attack and troop-carrying helicopters,
reconnaissance units, support troops and trainers for the Afghan Army and
the police. …
Stabilizing cities with more troops so that the Afghan army will have time
to expand, troops will be working in conjunction with the Afghan forces, so
that in the end they can handle the full load. But that won’t be in the short
term. When talking about Afghanistan nothing can be seen in the immediate, except
that violence continues to escalate.
Dubbing Afghanistan as the central front of our fight against terrorism, Obama
is making a larger statement than most see, especially with his new vision about
prevention of failed states, versus the old thinking of Bush-Cheney preemption.
He seems to be telegraphing the commitment Bush-Cheney refused to make. Thinking
in a larger sense, with Gen. Jones beside him, they seem to also understand
that if Afghanistan fails the fight for it between Pakistan and India will be
to reinvest after Bush-Cheney’s dithering, however, won’t be easy and we
simply cannot take Afghanistan on alone.
“The reality is there are other NATO doors that President-elect Obama
should be knocking on first,” Mr. MacKay said in Nova Scotia in November.
“There is an enormous amount of goodwill that has been engendered by
President-elect Obama that he might be willing to spend for a cause that he
clearly believes in.
But as much as I believe we have an interest in keeping Afghanistan from becoming
a failed state, the real terrorist threat is beyond that country. We’ve got
a rising disaster being threatened in the Pakistan – Kashmir – India region,
which will soon be as important to solve as the Israeli – Palestinian challenge.
That is, if it isn’t already.