Gates Looking for More Troops

Out of the thousands of terrible decisions that President George W. Bush and his administration have made, the worst has to be deciding to stop chasing the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden. I guess that we can also lump in the decision not to send more troops into the Tora Bora mountains to encircle Bin Laden and kill or capture him at that time. Then there was the decision to push the Taliban and Bin Laden out of the capital city of Kabul instead of closing the city off and cornering all of Al Qaeda’s top leadership. All of these decisions were terrible. We are living with the consequences of these decisions now.

The Taliban attacked an American base in Eastern Afghanistan this week. Now, let’s ruminate over this for a second. American has the most powerful military in the world. Yet, the Taliban launched an coordinated offensive against us. They must have thought either they could win the battle and take the base or they could learn from the American response and use that knowledge in a future attack. Both scenarios are depressing. (They did overrun the base with their second attack.)

Over the last six years, the U.S. has spent billions of dollars in Afghanistan. What have we gotten for our investment? Heroin. Afghan farmers have produced more heroin under the Bush administration then they ever did under the Mullah Omar and the Taliban. Tons of this stuff have flooded the world market. Yet, the Bush administration has done next to nothing to stop it.

We are making the same mistake that former President Reagan made over 20 years ago. U.S. policy was to confront Russia everywhere, keeping the pressure on. When Russia invaded Afghanistan, we supplied weapons to the Afghan warlords and mujaheddin. Russia was pushed out. We declared victory and left. But we didn’t help rebuild the county. More fighting occurred. This time the fighting was basically a civil war. The Taliban won. We continued to ignore events until 9/11.

afghan cartoon

So, fast forward to late 2001 when we ran the Taliban out of Afghanistan. We left just enough troops to make sure that Kabul will not fall back into the hands of the Taliban as we went after those WMD’s. Afghanistan has been allowed to fester. We don’t have enough troops or money to build a society that respects the rule of law, much less a society that has telephones for commerce or roads to efficiently move produce to market. Six years after the Taliban were pushed out, they are back like Freddie Krueger.

Now the Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is looking for more troops to send Freddie back to where he came from– but there aren’t any more troops. Unless Gates has the powers of Samantha Stevens, on the TV show Bewitched, twitching his nose is not going to produce any more troops. All of our combat units are either in Iraq or in Afghanistan or they have just come back from deployment. There are no good short term solutions.

I think that we need to pull a couple of combat units out of Iraq and send them to Afghanistan. We need to get control of this situation. We need to kill or capture the leadership of the Taliban and find Osama Bin Laden and end what he started.

I don’t think that I have said anything in this post that would be considered radical or left-wing or controversial. This should be the American stance but, as you know, it is not. Bush supporters somehow try to argue that Afghanistan really doesn’t matter. The really fight against terrorism is in Iraq.

Here’s Fred Barnes trying to make this case on Fox News Sunday: