Selling the Obama Surge
How very convenient that the Senate Tora Bora report arrived in the news today – just in time to help build the case for bowing to Gen McChrystal’s demand for a bigger war in Afghanistan.
All reports forecast an Obama decision to send 30-35,000 additional troops coupled with a lot of talk telling Karzai he must clean up corruption in return for continued US efforts – and some talk of a vague exit strategy. There are already 9,000 marines prepared to ship out though according to the Washington Post, they will wait until after the Tuesday night speech even though local reports point to Karzai already backing away from any effort to curb corruption.
With opposition to this decision growing, escalation may need a bit of a sales pitch — and here comes Sen Levin right on cue:
Addressing a new Senate Foreign Relations Committee report claiming bin Laden was nearly captured by U.S. forces at Tora Bora, Levin argued that had the capture taken place, “there would be a good chance we would not have forces or need to have forces [in Afghanistan].”
So gosh, if Obama choses more war, it’s really not his fault … it’s all thanks to that Bush crowd.
Republicans, who are getting almost everything they want, are – surprise, surprise – not happy. Today Sen. Lugar argued that we should “put aside the health care debate until next year, the same way we put cap and trade and climate change” and just focus on “the war and money” while Sen. Kyl both compares Obama’s plan to Vietnam and says:
“Let’s don’t have talk of a phased deployment,” Kyl said. “We’ll send a few troops immediately, and then we’ll see what happens, see how it plays out, maybe send some more. That’s kind of reminiscent of Vietnam. That escalation, that slow escalation didn’t work there. You need to put in everybody you can as quickly as you can and deliver a knockout punch to the enemy.”
Even less happy will be the people of Afghanistan who will now face an even larger occupying force. Let’s go back to those 9,000 marines for a moment. The WaPo article frames their deployment as the necessary step since the current 10,000 marines in Helmand can’t occupy all major villages and towns like Marjeh where “the Taliban” operate. Even with the additional 9,000, there will not be enough troops and the effort depends on an increase of Afghan forces – forces who are not showing up:
The Afghan government appears likely to commit only 60 percent of the troops that Marine and local Afghan commanders estimate that they need for the assault, a senior Marine official in Helmand said.
While General Conway, the top Marine officer, notes that putting US troops on every streeet corner is not ideal, he also assures us that “Where we have gone, goodness follows,” a sentiment Col Pat Lang rightly questions.
Yet hidden deep in this article is the following which suggests that no matter how many US marines are sent into the area, local residents are likely to question all this “goodness:”
Karzai intervened to halt an attack into Marjeh by U.S. Special Operations forces and Afghan troops this year after residents in the area complained of excessive civilian casualties, senior military officials said.