As President Barack Obama deliberates -- no, Dick, he's not "dithering" -- a revised strategy and troop levels in Afghanistan, some people in the White House and Pentagon have loose lips and leaked some startling news this past week. If true, consider these developments:
The president has rejected four options on strategy and troop levels from his military intelligence team and instructed them to start over.
The U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, a former commander of troops in the Asian countries, has bucked the now top general and Secretary of State by claiming additional troops to Afghanistan would be a mistake because it would play into the hands of the corrupt government of President Hamid Karzai.
Some intelligence experts believe there are only 300 active al-quada fighters in the Afghan provinces at a time our NATO commander, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, is recommending a troop increase of 40,000 soldiers. An earlier report indicates military experts believe the influence of al-quada in Afghanistan is waning and a return of the Taliban would reject the more radical Islamic extremists. Admittedly, that's a minority opinion.
While Obama insists in previous speeches the purpose of our forces is to prevent militants from taking over Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, Seymour Hirsch, writing in the New Yorker Magazine, quotes Pakistani military leaders that security arrangement between the two countries is tenuous at best.
A report from the military today describes our troop morale in Afghanistan is low and deteriorating rapidly.
If you read these dispatches as I did you will forgive our president for pondering what's the best course of action. There is speculation that Obama will end up with a middle-course solution which I can't imagine will please anyone.
The one thing I did find positive was the relative success of our drone missiles taking out suspected al-quada leaders in the Af/Pac region despite collateral damage to the civilian population.
The entire military-political purpose of our war efforts in the two countries is to prevent al-quada or any other radical group from gaining access to Pakistan's nuclear weapons. Which is why I found this paragraph from Hirsch's New Yorker Magazine article so remarkable:
A senior Pakistani official who has close ties to (Pakistan President Asif Ali) Zardari exploded with anger during an interview when the subject turned to the American demands for more information about the arsenal. After the September 11th attacks, he said, there had been an understanding between the Bush Administration and then President Pervez Musharraf “over what Pakistan had and did not have.” Today, he said, “you’d like control of our day-to-day deployment. But why should we give it to you? Even if there was a military coup d’état in Pakistan, no one is going to give up total control of our nuclear weapons. Never. Why are you not afraid of India’s nuclear weapons?” the official asked. “Because India is your friend, and the longtime policies of America and India converge. Between you and the Indians, you will fuck us in every way. The truth is that our weapons are less of a problem for the Obama Administration than finding a respectable way out of Afghanistan.”
I'll say it for the umpteenth time. Mr. President, send our troops home.