Obama: Proving that war is peace

President Obama will receive his Nobel Peace Prize on December 10. He is preparing for that event by escalating the war in Afghanistan, following the failed strategies of Generals David Petraeus and Stanley McChrystal.

Today’s New York Times tells us that not only will Obama announce in a speech tonight that he is giving General Stanley McChrystal most of the troops he requested for escalation in Afghanistan, but the timeframe for their deployment will now be accelerated:

In bringing the total American force to nearly 100,000 troops by the end of May, the administration will move far faster than it had originally planned. Until recently, discussions focused on a deployment that would take a year, but Mr. Obama concluded that the situation required “more, sooner,” as one official said, explaining some of the central conclusions Mr. Obama reached at the end of a nearly three-month review of American war strategy.

The Times tells us a few features of how this escalation will work:

The new strategy draws heavily on lessons learned from President George W. Bush’s “surge” and strategy shift in Iraq in 2007, which Mr. Obama opposed as a senator and presidential candidate. Mr. Obama’s advisers are even referring to his troop buildup as an “extended surge.”

However officials said that Mr. Obama in his speech will give a time frame — something Mr. Bush did not do — for when the United States will start pulling the reinforcements out and begin turning over security responsibilities to Afghan forces one province at a time.


A critical part of Mr. Obama’s strategy is to succeed in an area where Mr. Bush failed: Training a reliable Afghan force, not only the national army but a series of local forces as well. Currently, the Afghan army is in the lead in only one of 34 provinces in the country, around the capital of Kabul.
[Emphasis added.]

Oh yes, this "extended surge" is so much better than Bush’s "surge" because it has an end date. Note also the reliance on training Afghan forces to take over from us. Where have we heard that before?

Here’s Petraeus’ first foray into politics, in an Op-Ed in the Washington Post in September, 2004, helping to re-elect George W. Bush:

Nonetheless, there are reasons for optimism. Today approximately 164,000 Iraqi police and soldiers (of which about 100,000 are trained and equipped) and an additional 74,000 facility protection forces are performing a wide variety of security missions. Equipment is being delivered. Training is on track and increasing in capacity. Infrastructure is being repaired. Command and control structures and institutions are being reestablished.

That claim by Petraeus was complete hogwash, and the process of training Iraqi troops began again with the 2007 surge, with a clean slate and no questions from the press or Congress about Petraeus’ earlier claims of success. Petraeus was rewarded for his multiple failures by first being put in charge of the overall effort in Iraq and now heading up CentCom.

How has that training in Iraq worked out? Here’s an article from McClatchy yesterday:

The United States has leverage "irrespective of whether we have 100,000 troops on the ground or 100," the official said, including Iraq’s desire for American security training and for better relations with Sunni-dominated Arab neighbors such as Saudi Arabia, a U.S. ally.

That security training from the US is so good that Iraq still needs more of it. Again. For at least the third time.

Note also that McChrystal has been in charge of the failed training of the Afghan forces, so he’s the perfect choice for the next effort there.

Summing up, then, Obama is embracing most of the features of the failed Bush military strategies against which he voted and campaigned. That seems like the perfect course to take just before accepting a Nobel Prize which he was awarded for not being George W. Bush.

Why does this move favor peace? Because as Spencer Ackerman reported, this deployment will render the US virtually incapable of further military action:

If President Obama orders an additional 30,000 to 40,000 troops to Afghanistan, he will be deploying practically every available U.S. Army brigade to war, leaving few units in reserve in case of an unforeseen emergency and further stressing a force that has seen repeated combat deployments since 2002.

Oh that crafty Obama, always playing the eleventy-dimensional underwater chess. By escalating the war in Afghanistan, he is preventing a war with Iran.

Or at least delaying it.

Jim White

Jim White

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