Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Obama's Holding Patterns for Afghanistan and Palestine

Reactions after his long meeting with Congressional leaders yesterday suggest that Mr. Obama is contemplating a glorified holding pattern for Afghanistan - what the LA Times calls the "middle ground" .  The WaPo's report headlines that his approach "divides lawmakers" - but given Obama's history, I suspect that he's going to come up with a course of action (I hesitate to call it a solution) that will give something to everyone, and probably satisfy no one.

In other words, a "middle ground," which is what - according to the NYT report - John McCain specifically cautioned him against during the meeting.  McCain, however, related that to the so-called middle ground that Bush adopted in Iraq before he agreed to the Petraeus-led "Surge," which in McCain's myopic world-view led to "success" in Iraq.  You know, it seems to me that for John McCain, "success" means creating a result from which the US military - with which he equates US honor and glory in general - can emerge as effective, undefeated, and can come home (as he so often put it in 2008 campaign) "with honor."  It has nothing to do with the long-term future of Iraq and its people.  And as for Bush's alleged "middle-ground" approach to Iraq . . . Does anyone else in the room believe that launching an essentially unprovoked war of choice (to use Richard Haas' expression) and  full-scale invasion of Iraq was a "middle-ground" kind of action?

As far as Obama's decision is concerned, my bet is on a continued boots-on-the-ground presence (again, the reports indicate that he will not agree to a major draw-down), with perhaps a slight increase (5 - 10,000) in troop numbers, with troops to be assigned to increase security in major cities as well as train the Afghan army.  Not enough to pacify the countryside.  Indeed, there aren't enough troops in the US military to accomplish that.  The US will likely rely on negotiating with "good" Taliban, maybe buying them off (indeed, the way Petraeus bought off the now-forlorn Sunni Awakening/Sons of Iraq groups in Iraq).  Again, a short-term, short-sighted fix, but, as in Iraq,  it will not make for a stabilized Afghanistan when - or if? - US forces depart.

The result will be a continuing slow hemorrhaging of the lives of US military - with an occasional incident when perhaps as many as 5-7 soldiers/Marines will be killed, but not enough to mobilize a US public opinion that is too distracted with its economic woe, the health-care debate, and the demonization of those mad, scary mullahs of Iran who are going to get nukes and wipe out Israel.

Speaking of which . . . an interesting analysis from IPS suggests that Obama's pressure on Mahmud Abbas to shelve action on the Goldstone report may be playing - wisely - for the long run.

No comments:


Blog Archive

Cluster map

Search This Blog

ICAHD - 18,000 Homes Campaign (large banner)