9.04.2009

War in Afghanistan: Obama and Victims on both sides


The cost of the War in Afghanistan.

Watching the coverage of the War in Afghanistan, listening to the different perspectives, and reading the differing opinions, it is strange to see and hear the liberal left and the conservative right both increasingly vocal in their criticism of Pres. Barack H. Obama.

The fact that he inherited the mess in Afghanistan after 8 years of mismanagement by the Bush administration seems to be lost on many of the commentators who appear more interested in assigning blame to the president than discussing and identifying real solutions.

A recent CNN poll found that 57 percent of the American people are against the war and with four months left in in the year, 2009 has been the deadliest for military personnel there since "Operation Enduring Freedom" began on Oct. 7, 2001.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen held a press briefing at the Pentagon on Sept. 3 and, like good military men, reiterated their support for Pres. Obama’s strategy in the region.

At one point during the briefing, Secretary Gates said the following:

"I think what is important is for us to be able to show, over the months to come, that the president's strategy is succeeding. And that is what General McChrystal is putting in front of us, is how best we can, at least from the military's standpoint, ensure that we can show signs of progress along those lines. But I think it is also -- there is always a difference between the perspective in terms of timing in this country (U.S.) and certainly in this city (Washington D.C), and what's going on in the country (Afghanistan). And I think what's important to remember is, the president's decisions were only made at the -- on this strategy were only made at the very end of March.
Our new commander appeared on the scene in June. We still do not have all of the forces the president has authorized in Afghanistan yet, and we still do not have all the civilian surge that the president has authorized and insisted upon in Afghanistan yet.

So we are only now beginning to be in a position to have the assets in place that -- and the strategy or the military approach in place to begin to implement the strategy. And this is going to take some time. By the same time (sic), no one is more aware than General McChrystal and certainly the two of us that there is a limited time for us to show that this approach is working, and certainly for the secretary of State and the president as well, because there is this broader element of the strategy that goes beyond the military."


Admiral Mullen then added:

"
The only thing I'd add to that is, this has been a mission that has not been well-resourced. It's been under-resourced almost since its inception, certainly in recent years. And it has -- and part of why it has gotten more serious and has deteriorated has been directly tied to that. President Obama has approved the troops, approved the civilians that, as the secretary indicated, are literally in many cases just arriving on scene."

So I ask the following questions:

- Who will address the humanitarian crisis of the suffering Afghan people and the hundreds of civilian casualties being caused by Hellfire missiles raining down from unmanned predator drones?

- What will be the solution to limit the effectiveness of an evolving and battle hardened enemy (the Taliban) that seems to be able to strike American troops and assassinate Afghan government officials at will?

- How many American mothers and fathers are willing to lose their sons and daughters in the mountainous regions of Afghanistan in a war that appears to have no end in sight?

Remember, in this war, even the definition of success is subjective.

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