Sunday, December 16, 2007

Reassessing Afghanistan

A year ago, it was a big damned deal when the Iraq Study Group was set to unveil their findings, and everyone waited with bated breath.

No one is too excited about the assessments coming out of Afghanistan this year, though. That is because a year ago it looked like we were winning, and now it looks unsalvageable.

The bad news out of Afghanistan.

“Essentially what’s driving it is that a year ago, we were regarding Afghanistan as an outstanding success — we established democracy, we were in control of many parts of the country,” the NATO diplomat said. “Now we have significant issues with certain areas producing opium and the Taliban coming back in certain parts of the country, as well.”

The Democratic chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Representative Ike Skelton of Missouri, was more direct in assessing possible failure in Afghanistan.

“I have a real concern that given our preoccupation in Iraq, we’ve not devoted sufficient troops and funding to Afghanistan to ensure success in that mission,” Mr. Skelton said. “Afghanistan has been the forgotten war.”

Strained by commitments in Iraq, the American military has few troops available to expand its forces in Afghanistan. “It is simply a matter of resources, of capacity,” Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Congress this week. “In Afghanistan, we do what we can. In Iraq, we do what we must.”

Rant alert: Does that last sentence make anyone else crazy-livid? Since 'doing what we must' in Iraq is purely due to a president who lied to his people to get an optional war started?

Both Defense Secretary Gates and Secreatary of State Rice have been pressuring the government of Hamid Karzai to undertake aerial eradication efforts to curb poppy production, which benefits the Taliban financially.

It would be much more effective to buy the poppies and use them to make morphine for controlled distribution, but apparently that notion lacks the proper punitive effect that dropping poison from the sky has in spades.

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