Hope everyone is doing okay. Not much to report on the home front.
In fact, I really don't have too much to comment on at all. I've been reading more about the reactions of various liberal and conservative groups about Presidnet Obama's plan for Afghanistan, and it seems like no one is really happy with it- the liberals because we're staying over there and sending more troops while the conservatives are upset because the president included a target date for leaving the country.
I'm hoping this whole target end date thing actually ends up working in our favor. The common wisdom is that an end date will just lend "aid and comfort" to the enemy by providing them with a timetable for how long they need to evade and survive before they can begin attempting to retake control.
Our overall strategic model, though, seems to include the objective of stabilizing and training the Afghan government, military, and police so that (hopefully) they can be self sufficient in suppressing violent extremists within their own country. Maybe it will lend a sense of urgency to the effort and help push the Afghans to make more progress and bigger strides if they know that they can't depend upon us indefinitely. If Afghan political and military leaders know that American support is going to begin to fall away after a certain point, maybe they'll work harder to take advantage of American resources during the years while America is still in their country. For one thing, if the militants resume control, I would think that things might get a little hairy for the Afghan leaders who sided with the Americans. It might behoove these people to have a decent plan regarding how to keep things under control after the Americans leave (and we want our allies to understand that we're going to be leaving at some point, anyway, don't we? Right?).
Anyway, I'm just saying that a little bit of urgency might be a good thing. Heaven knows, we've tried the endless war thing before, and that didn't really pan out very well for us (see Vietnam and Iraq), so at least this new plan with a supposed date certain for withdrawal has the virtue of not having been tried. I also like the fact that it recognizes that our problems in these situations stem almost as much from the failure of our allies to "step up" as it does from our actual combat with the enemy.
Anyway, I felt a little weird watching The Daily show the other night because it was one of those rare times when I wasn't entirely in agreement with what they were saying. They were trying to draw a lot of parallels between Obama and Bush and Afghanistan and Iraq, and I didn't think the comparisons were altogether fair. Obama ran on a promise to try to win the war in Afghanistan and referred to it as a necessary war throughout his campaign. The wars themselves, I believe, have been fought for very different reasons. Afghanistan is a response to an attack on American civilians that occurred in the heart of one of our biggest citizens. To be honest, I'm still not sure why we ever went to war in Iraq (basically, to me it seemed like a war fought because of some kind of almost personal grudge that George W. Bush and members of his administration had against Saddam Hussein, who was most definitely a jackass, but probably not a threat to the U.S. or its allies).
It's true that both of these wars were difficult to extricate ourselves from once we were involved in them, but that isn't a factor which speaks to the moral underpinnings of the two conflicts or their necessity. I don't think that Obama wants this war in Afghanistan, but I also doubt that he thinks of it as an unwinnable war. If he saw Afghanistan as unwinnable, I think he would be ordering the withdrawal of our troops. Instead, I think the president believes that we can make just enough progress to stabilize the government and establish a security force that can keep the Taliban from reestablishing control (or at least the most dangerous elements of the Taliban- I've been hearing news reports on NPR saying that not all Taliban elements are equally dangerous).
Maybe nobody else cares about this. I find it kind of interesting.
Welllll, not much time for blogging, and not much else leaping to mind (although I'll admit there hasn't even been much time to read/watch the news).
It's supposed to snow in Austin tomorrow, so all of you Austin Adventurers enjoy that!!!