Obama Rearranges Deck Chairs On The Titanic
As everybody in the world who owns a TV set knows, President Obama went public with his strategy for Afghanistan last night.
For Afghanistan watchers (and the readers of this blog) there were very few surprises in that speech. We’ve known for at least a week that there would be a significant up-tick in coalition forces here, but really, this plan has probably been in the works for over a year. Last summer, I wrote this essay, outlining how the US would eventually make it’s way out of Afghanistan.
In it, I said that there would be a surge in the short-term, with a heavy emphasis on training Afghan security forces, followed by a withdrawal before the next US presidential election. I’d like to thank the President for vindicating my line of thinking.
But after listening to the President’s speech, I’m still not sure what he thinks Afghanistan will look like by the time US forces withdraw in 2011.
Most of those security forces he wants to increase and train are illiterate and undisciplined. Afghan military and police leadership is corrupt, some of them having bought their ranks in order to get in on lucrative bribes from narco-traffickers.
The US and Nato have had eight years to train these men, what could possibly be done in 18 months to seriously professionalize them? Magic?
When the US withdraws from Afghanistan it will leave behind 400,000 well armed men with no education, lousy paychecks (that they sometimes don’t receive), suspect leadership and very few options. This is not a recipe for stability.
On the government front, Karzai may offer up some heads-on-platters to show that he is serious about cracking down on corruption, but in reality, I can guarantee that it will be business as usual for the rest of Karzai’s second term. Those who have been sacked will simply be replaced by other unscrupulous fat-cats.
Everybody is all aflutter about Obama’s speech. Liberals say he hit a home run and conservatives are saying that he took too long to make this decision. They are all mostly know-nothings trying to re-arrange deck chairs on the Titanic. Maybe it will be more secure here in the short term. How could it not be? Insurgents don’t like to stand and fight. But as soon as Nato leaves, this place will fall apart.
That is not a guess. That is not a prognostication. That is a fact and anybody who tells you different has got something to sell.