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Another Overkill Please, Mr. President

September 14, 2009


By Michael S. Smith II, SCHotline Contributing Editor

Both Sen. John McCain (R, A.Z.) and Sen. Carl Levin (D, M.I.) expect Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal to request the deployment of more American troops to Afghanistan. The question is: Will Barack Obama pay adequate attention to McChrystal and other senior members of our defense community, or will he defer to politicians in D.C. when deciding on the nature of his policies for Persia?

Sen. McCain seems to believe that obliging Gen. McChrystal’s impending request represents a prudent measure. Sen. Levin, however, believes it is not, and that the U.S. should instead waste time training Afghan armed forces to fight the Taliban.

Sen. McCain’s suggestion is sure to resonate with too few members of Congress who can sway the president’s opinions, and certainly no members of his administration. Yet Sen. Levin’s advice, if heeded by the president, will prove tantamount to handing the Taliban the keys to Kabul.

Many are pointing to Sen. McCain’s support for the surge in Iraq as an extension of some sort of wisdom of forethought on the senator’s part. However, just because Sen. McCain was a proponent for the surge in Iraq does not mean the president should consider the senator’s input to be strategically sound — the surge in Iraq was a short term win for troops there, not the massive victory it’s been celebrated as by too many mainstream media outlets here.

The surge in Iraq did not represent a kinetic forces-oriented win for the U.S. Instead, it was an exercise in financially co-opting militia men in Anwar Province and other areas controlled by puppets of Iran, militia men who are increasingly breaking their deals with America.

In other words, the surge represented a greater victory for politicians a sea and an ocean away from the Middle East than it did for America’s longterm strategic interests there. In other words, an Iraq-styled surge will not work in Afghanistan.

On the other side of the coin, Pres. Obama should not consider the measures proposed by Carl Levin on September 11, 2009 to represent anything other than a path that will prove equally catastrophic for the president’s own political future as it will for Afghanistan, Pakistan and perhaps even the entire world.

It is too late for the U.S. to resort to implementing a program to train Afghans to fight the Taliban. The Taliban is no longer on the run; it is resurging at an alarming rate.

Sen. Carl Levin’s strategic defenses-focused presentation on the 8-year anniversary of 9/11 enjoyed certain similarities to Pres. Obama’s address before Congress earlier in the week:  both were delivered far too late, and both were replete with too few meaningful or realistic policy prescriptions.

Pres. Obama had no problem resorting to an “overkill” in his approach to “fixing” America’s economic problems. This American would greatly appreciate the president doing the same with his approach to resolving the world’s problems in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Surely he knows his cronies like Carl Levin will support him no matter what he does.

To restore some form of stability and order to the post-Cold War international system the president must muster the political will to do what is needed to destroy any possible futures for both the Taliban and al Qa’ida — he must fight a war in Afghanistan.

And it wouldn’t hurt if he disbanded his administration’s war on the CIA here at home.



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