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Afghan War A “Catch 22” For Obama

By James Donahue

Amid the taunts by GOP hate mongers like Dick Cheney, President Barack Obama has been taking his time, studying all of the ramifications of America’s involvement in the Afghanistan War, and looking for a way to repair the mess he inherited from the outgoing Bush/Cheney administration.

Unfortunately, Mr. Obama’s choices are limited and no matter which path he takes, it will probably be wrong.

The choices are:

--Escalate the eight-year-old war by sending 30,000 to 40,000 more troops into the conflict, thus setting up another possibly decade-long war against fierce mountain guerilla fighters who have had time to build their forces and get themselves entrenched during the years Bush pulled forces out of Afghanistan and launched a second unnecessary war in Iraq. The Taliban fighters are descendants of ancient tribes who have always fought gallantly for their territory, and they have never lost.

--Leave the situation stagnant, as it currently is, with American and UN forces losing the Afghan fight in nearly every corner of the country. This will obviously lead to an ugly defeat such as the United States experienced in Viet Nam.

--Pull out of Afghanistan and admit defeat even as we did in Vietnam. This would not be all bad, since the Taliban has never been our target. Our troops invaded Afghanistan after a nest of Al Qaeda terrorists hatched a plot in a Qandahar temple to attack the United States on 9-11. It was the wrong thing to have done. Our fight was with the terrorist organization, not the people of Afghanistan. Ungluing the sticky situation we created by that foolish military assault will not be an easy thing to accomplish. Pulling out would open the door for the Al Qaeda to move right back in.

CNN International Correspondent Michael Ware gave an interesting assessment of the problems we face in a recent interview on CNN News. He noted that efforts to create a national government in Afghanistan have ended in failure with this year’s corrupted elections. He said Afghanistan has never been a nation functioning under a central government, but rather a collection of tribal communities each ruled by local chieftains. Some of these local leaders are politically very powerful. Their word is law.

Ware said it was his opinion that the best move for Mr. Obama to make at this time would be to escalate troop levels in Afghanistan, and then use these forces to put military pressure on certain powerful chieftains, forcing them to the bargaining table.

What the Afghan people and the Taliban people want is for American forces to leave Afghanistan. The bargain would be to agree to pull our troops out if they would agree to use their military forces and political clout to keep Al Qaeda militants out as well.

That sounds like a very good plan to us.