The safe havens must be eliminated. The corruption must be stopped. The infrastructures must be built. The people must be free. The allies must stand together. The nuclear arms must remain safe. The bombing must be stopped. The safe haven must be eliminated.
30,000 plus a exit date of June 2011. It’s a safe bet that we will need some more troops. It’s a safe bet that things will calm down before they become restive, once again. It’s a safe bet that we will re-evaluate before we re-deploy.
A certain generation of Americans is heavily invested in the “Vietnam analogy” because that generation watches all of the cable shows. Is Afghanistan like or unlike Vietnam. Afghanistan is like Afghanistan. It’s majority population has been born and raised in the noise of bomb blasts and the heavy weight of an automatic weapon nearby – highly transient and shell-shocked. They say more Afghans are needed to fight for the future of Afghanistan. I’d say find more Afghans who are done fighting.
He said, “Since 9/11, al Qaeda’s safe havens have been the source of attacks against London and Amman and Bali.” See, again. There is no Islamabad. No Peshawar. No Lahore. No Lahore. No Lahore. Nor, even Mumbai (though, the Indian PM did get that nice dinner). No matter how much thoughtful and thorough review happens, some things are never questioned, nor changed.
“Public opinion has turned”, he said. Right. It was public opinion that kept us back from 2001-2008. We had a name for that public opinion, didn’t we? Our moderately enlightened public opinion. “In the past, we too often defined our relationship with Pakistan narrowly. Those days are over.” Ah, past. Let us not tarry there. Let us move on quickly and forcefully. But where? To fund and finance the capacity of Pakistanis to carry out bigger and more effective wars? How exactly is that a break from the past? Maybe the difference is that we are now going to drop night-vision goggles instead of a pellet full of dollars from the C-9 or C-7 or whatever big-planes-are-called? Yes, that is indeed new. Because night-vision goggles can give you sight in the darkness. Essential.
We will support democracy. We supported the “flawed” election of Karzai. That, unfortunately, is not “the past”. We supported Pervez Musharraf. He doesn’t want to be “the past”. And neither does “President Zardari” – who was bequeathed both a political party and a nation by a woman who last won an election in 1993 but was still the only possible future Pakistan was deemed to have. Sadly, she is also “the past”.
Should I have been heartened, at least, by his “concerns about our approach.” Yes, there are some concerns. In Islamabad. In Kabul. Maybe even is Khost and Karachi. Or in Kandahar and Lahore. We weren’t told but maybe those concerns were heard in the “review process”. I am sure that the easy traffic of weapons and people across borders, the legitimate demands of dis-enfranchised in Swat or Baluchistan, the fear of every-day life in Lahore or Karachi were all heard and discussed. Could it be that this “let’s send some more troops and help train some other more troops” strategy was developed with the political and civil leaders in Pakistan and Afghanistan at the table with the Iranian, Indian, and Chinese officials to address inter and intra-regional tactics? Maybe hidden in the fine print are new means of communication, new definitions of strategic aims and missions and a much more harmonized action plan? It certainly never was in “the past”.
We have to “go forward”, “go forward”, while “going forward”, “going forward” and then “move forward” while “moving forward”. And Afghanistan? It has “moved backwards”. Movement is key in a stateless country where the only anchored reference remains Alexander the Great. We will move forward. If it comes that these (safe?) havens also move, we will already be ahead of them. Or behind.
Here we go ’round the mulberry bush.
[Photo Credit: Daily Waqt, Issue 69, vol. 287, Tuesday, Dec 1, 2009 & "Obama Announces Troop Increase for Afghanistan", Doug Mills/The New York Times]