Missing the Point in Afghanistan

In their unrelenting efforts to undermine President Obama’s popularity, the GOP is now going after the administration’s policy in Afghanistan. Recent blaring headlines quoting General McCrystal’s warning of a “failure” in the so-called “Afghan war” are no coincidence. As Politico reports:

Republicans feel like they have the president in a box politically on Afghanistan, according to GOP insiders, and they are pressing their advantage. If Obama goes along with the McChrystal recommendations, he risks alienating the progressive base of the Democratic party, which wants to see the White House develop an exit strategy for getting out of Afghanistan.

But pulling out means a potential return of Taliban control, and [with] that, the specter of al Qaeda once again using Afghanistan as a base to attack the United States and its Western allies.

Republicans are counting on a lack of public support from an American public that has seen too many lives lost in Iraq. Thus, by characterizing Obama’s new strategy in Afghanistan as simply: “send more troops or fail,” the GOP hopes to assure that he will come off poorly, either in the short-or long-run.

However, by emphasizing McChrystal’s call for additional troops, the media is largely ignoring what the General considers the most vital issue to a successful strategy against al Qaeda and the Taliban. His report emphasizes the need to cut down on accidental civilian casualties that are eroding support among Afghanis.

“The civilian casualty issue is much more important than I even realized. It is literally how we lose the war or in many ways how we win it,” McChrystal said during a briefing.

Indeed, the McCrystal plan calls for much more than additional troops. The Christian Science Monitor reported:

McCrystal made fighting corruption a top priority of his assessment. He broke down his new Afghan strategy into four points. No. 2 was “prioritize responsive and accountable governance” – above any operational changes (No. 3), or resources (No. 4), and below only the building up of Afghan security forces.

In short, the President has a lot on his plate this week as he decides how to go forward in Afghanistan. He is charged with finding a way to eradicate deeply rooted government corruption, build allies within Afghan security forces, and provide appropriate resources for the military forces there; while at the same time struggling to appease a deeply divided American public.

One thing can be counted on – whatever the decision, the Right wing will not be supportive.

Posted by Mary Tharin

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