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      Obama Reviewing Afghanistan Options

      An MQ-9 Reaper returns to Kandahar from a mission in Afghanistan. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)

      Military commanders are pushing President Obama to keep a maximum number of American troops through the coming Afghanistan “fighting season,” maximizing their combat role before the December 2014 date for ending offensive operations.

      There currently are 68,000 US troops in Afghanistan at an unfunded cost of at least $65 billion to $70 billion. To retain those numbers from spring through autumn 2013 – the span of the fighting season –  would continue present cost levels, not to mention the toll on troops becoming the last to die or suffer wounds as the American war winds down.

      The Senate weighed in last week with a 62-33 vote in general favor of an accelerated troop withdrawal, and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) is expected to forward a similar proposal signed by 100 House members this week.

      An October Pew poll showed 60 percent of Americans favoring withdrawal as soon as possible, a sharp shift from 2008 numbers.

      Neoconservatives such as Fred and Kimberley Kagan are calling for 30,000 American troops to remain in country to assume counterterrorism roles, including drones, airpower, special ops, and backup troops for force protection.

      The Associated Press cites “analysts” who estimate 10,000 to 15,000 will be needed for the US goals of counterterrorism, training Afghan forces and logistical support. (December 3, 2012)

      Fear of “abandoning” Afghanistan runs high because of the widespread belief in official circles that the US “took its eye” off Afghanistan in 1996, when the Soviet army withdrew, and again in 2003, when the George Bush administration diverted US forces to Iraq.

      But it is implausible to believe that 10,000 to 15,000 American residual troops could succeed where over 100,000 failed during a decade of war. The residual troops would be caught in sectarian crossfire as the corrupt and unpopular Karzai regime struggled for its existence. Even Republican Rep. C.W. Young (R-FL), chairman of the House subcommittee on defense spending, said, “We’re killing kids who don’t need to die.”

      The sentiment runs deep, across partisan lines, that the US has “done enough” and cannot afford further entrapment in quagmires. Sentiment is even stronger for a face-saving diplomatic patch-job including power sharing and the engagement of regional powers, especially Pakistan, India, China and Russia, beyond the withdrawing NATO coalition.

      A similar debate raged for two years about the Iraq War without being resolved before American troops finally departed.

      For more details about the Iraq troop level negotiations, please see also by Tom Hayden, "US Special Forces Deployed in Iraq, Again."

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      Reader Comments (4)

      As the killing continues America's popularity sinks. I believe we create more enemies than we can possible kill as evidenced by both polls and the ever increasing chants:"death to America." There is nothing to be gained by staying and much to lose. As in Vietnam, it's all about saving face...........not a good reason for additional deaths and mutilation.

      December 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBill McLaughlin

      The US and its allies have murdered tens of thousands of people in Afghanistan on the basis of false accusations that the Taliban were harboring bin Laden and did all kinds of horrible things. If the Taliban were actually supportive of bin Laden's program , the easiest thing for them to do and also the least costly -- would have been to put out some venom against the State Of Israel. According to the Anti-Defamation League , the Taliban put out nothing against Jews or Israel -- while bin Laden, in his Jihad against Jews and Crusaders of Feb '98, called for killing Jews -- men, women and children , on sight, anywhere in the world. Tho' between July and Dec 2000, the Taliban reduced opium growing in their domain by 98.7% by consensus of the elders connected with the mosques -- they were called a failed a puppet state . There were no reports of any executions, maimings or floggings in connection with a ban that eliminated 2/3rds of the unofficial opium grown in the world. For this, they were accused of drug dealing and were put under even tighter sanctions -- even as their enemies -- who controlled only one province with 3% of the in-country population -- increased opium poppy grwoing by ~160% in the same time fram. . Afghanistan was a stepping stone to Iraq -- and we really stepped on the people of Afghanistan. For more information see "Torah and the Taliban" on line -- or contact the author for a free copy of the 50,000 word book -- with charts, graphs and links to primary sources.

      With prayers for Peace /Shalom Salaam

      December 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterA. S. Adler

      It's time that President Obama showed himself to be the Commander-in-Chief. This means to tell the generals that the killing must now stop. You won the election, Mr. President, not the candidate supported by the war-mongering cabal. The best policy for both this country and for the world is to remove all our military forces from Afghanistan as soon as it's logistically possible.

      December 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLen Carrier

      It is a tragedy for the U.S. and the world that the U.S. debate over Afghanistan is over how to avoid the embarrassment of defeat rather than how to devise an honorable, effective foreign policy for a world including one billion Muslims who want and deserve a shot at freely finding their own way into the future. But no, Americans—or at least American politicians don’t do “embarrassment.” That, in Washington, is the cardinal sin. So, once again as in Vietnam and Somalia and Iraq, the great Superpower tries to redefine defeat as victory, pretending that if only we had tweaked the military strategy, we would have won.

      In fact, defeat flowed from the fundamental assumption that a military solution to these socio-political and cultural disagreements ever existed. It did not. The problem is not our tactics or Muslims or communists or the opposition of anyone. The problem is Washington’s attitude that it makes the rules, should make the rules, has the power to make the rules. What Washington makes is trouble…for others and consequently for ourselves: with its big Pentagon hammer, it smashes windows in every direction. Such behavior is marvelously profitable for the super-rich, but tragically harmful to their children and ours. Too bad they, the super-rich, don’t care and too bad we, the people, don’t understand the logical linkage between an abusive foreign policy and the health of our democracy.

      December 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWilliam deB. Mills
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