President Obama is currently working on a plan for the on-going war in Afganistan, as everyone knows. The military wants more troops, the Democrats want them to come home and the Republicans want, uhm, well, they only seem to want "no" lately so we'll add them to the more troops camp. I can't say I'm shocked that General McChrystal has asked for more soldiers - when have you ever known the military to say "you know? We have enough boots on the ground here. Thanks anyway." It would be like Spinal Tap saying "You know, we *can* go to 11, but let's just keep it at a nice, comfortable 7, shall we?" I am certainly not disparaging the bravery and capability of our troops in harm's way - they're clearly the best fighting force Earth has ever seen. But even the best skill and training around just isn't enough to accomplish an impossible task. Like winning a shooting war in Afganistan. Just ask the British. Or the Soviets. Or, hell, Alexander The Great. Never mind the fact that 40,000 more troops would be just about every standing soldier we have left who can go. We've been there for over eight years all we've done is repeat history and throw good money after bad (Afghanistan was just ranked the 2nd most corrupt country in the known universe). There's still a chance to reverse that but it requires a new strategy.
We need to win the hearts and minds of the every-day Afghani. And we're not going to do that with bullets, bribes or battalions. Rather than sending 40,000 army troops why not send 40,000 civil engineers, teachers, doctors, sanitation experts, well-drillers, builders, road crews, nurses and others who are there to save lives not take them, starting with the Army Corps of Engineers. Sure, they'll need military cover at first but once the people of Afghanistan see that we're turning on the electricity, cleaning the water and otherwise improving their lives where do you think their allegiance will turn? The Taliban has been doing some of this but it's a guarantee that we can do it faster, broader and better. Don't assume what they want. ASK what they want then deliver it.
To paraphrase Warren Zevon the shit has hit the fan in Afghanistan. In this case, though, lawyers guns and money will only make it worse. President Obama, you didn't start this war but you can end it and the only way that isn't an absolute disaster is to show the Afghani people that we do want what's best for them by healing, not hurting. It's never too early to start building your legacy and earning that Nobel Peace Prize.
Absurdity to be determined.
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