Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Surge? -- Countersurge! Next Stop: Afghanistan

You could see this coming a mile away:

The Guardian, January 16:
U.S. Officials Say Taliban Attacks Surge
Taliban fighters seeking to regain power in Afghanistan are taking advantage of a recent peace deal with the Pakistan government to dramatically increase attacks on U.S. and allied forces in eastern and southeastern Afghanistan, several American military officials said Tuesday.
Hmm... Several American military officials? All saying the same thing at the same time?


Did you hear that? That was the detector going off. I apologize for the disruption. Unfortunately, the people who need it most just can't seem to hear it.

New York Times, January 17:
Commanders in Afghanistan Request More Troops
American and NATO military commanders in Afghanistan are worried about the resurgent Taliban insurgency and have asked for additional troops, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said today, adding that he was “sympathetic” to the request.

Mr. Gates said that the commanders had “indicated what they could do with different force levels,” but he would not say how many additional troops the commanders had asked for.
Of course not. How can they fudge the figures later if they divulge them now?

New York Times, January 17:
As Raids on Afghan Border Increase, U.S. Military Seeks More Troops
American commanders say the surge in cross-border attacks has coincided with an agreement reached last September in which the Pakistani government pulled back its soldiers in the North Waziristan region in return for a pledge from tribal elders not to shelter militants or allow them to engage in illegal behavior.

In the two months before the agreement, the senior American intelligence official said, there were 40 cross-border attacks in Khost and Paktika Provinces. But in the two months after the agreement there were 140 attacks.
Asked about increasing American troop levels in Afghanistan, Mr. Gates said that if military commanders sought more, “I would be strongly inclined to recommend that to the president.”

He also urged other NATO counties to fulfill their pledges to send more troops and equipment to Afghanistan.
It's a good thing Pakistan is our "ally". It's tough to imagine what would be happening if Pakistan were our enemy.

Reuters, January 17:
Gates to consider more troops for Afghanistan
Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Wednesday he would consider sending more troops to Afghanistan where U.S. commanders say they expect the Taliban to step up attacks from Pakistani sanctuaries.

Gates, in Afghanistan to ensure commanders have the resources to counter an expected Taliban offensive in the spring, said it was very important the United States and its allies did not let the success achieved in Afghanistan slip away.
Success? What Success?

Oh, right -- I almost forgot. Opium production is way up.

And what's good for the global heroin trade is good for the United States.
U.S. military commanders said attacks from Pakistan into Afghanistan had surged, several-fold in some areas, and the violence was expected to increase in the spring and summer.
Do you hear that?

Surge, surge, surge.

I can't help but wonder if all this talk of attacks surging is designed to whip up support for the so-called president's plan to send more than 20,000 more troops to Iraq. After all, if "the enemy" are surging, shouldn't we surge, too?

It looks as if our so-called leaders are preparing us for multiple surges -- one in Afghanistan, one in Iraq, and options still open with respect to Iran and Syria.

Am I stretching? I don't think so. The preparations haven't been hard to spot. They're not exactly being subtle about it. Even TIME Magazine has noticed.

TIME, January 17:
A Surge in Afghanistan Too?
The U.S. commander in Afghanistan has asked for "significant increases" in resources for what some critics call America's "invisible" war. Army Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry, the head of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, has recommended to Gates that the U.S. send more troops and more money to Afghanistan. He has proposed almost tripling the spending on assistance to the Afghan Security Forces and reconstruction projects to some $8 billion.

While the request needs the approval of the Joint Chiefs of Staff before it can be presented to President Bush, Secretary of State Robert Gates — on his first trip to Afghanistan — appears receptive to the idea.
The full-bore lying campaign, clearly designed to obfuscate the possible implications, has already begun.
When asked by a reporter today if the U.S. military was too strained by Iraq and other commitments to send more troops to Afghanistan, Gen Peter Pace acknowledged that "any kind of deployment is going to add a short term strain." But he said that a short-term increase in troops could actually mean less strain on the force over the longer run.
And how will that work? The more troops we have getting slaughtered in Afghanistan in the near future, the stronger our Army will be in the distant future? I guess that must be it. Peter Pace thinks we're all as dumb as a stick. And maybe some of us are.

As if this weren't impossibly sad already, even some so-called leaders of the putative opposition are receptive to the idea.

The Guardian, January 17:
Hillary Clinton opposes Iraq troops 'surge'
Ms Clinton said she opposed George Bush's plans to send a 'surge' of more than 20,000 extra troops to Iraq.

More should instead go to Afghanistan, she told NBC's Today Show.

She said the US president was "taking troops away from Afghanistan, where I think we need to be putting more troops, and sending them to Iraq on a mission that I think has a very limited, if any, chance for success".
Never mind whether the mission in Afghanistan stands any chance of success. Never mind whether the notion of "success" in Afghanistan has ever been defined. Just get us out of Iraq, without getting us out of the Middle East. Is that the idea?

It all seems like a cynical ploy to me; Ms. Clinton can appear to be critical of the so-called president on Iraq, but in the meantime she can appear to be "strong" on "National Security" in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan was "one of the great missed opportunities", Ms Clinton argued, urging an increase in US troops there before a likely "spring offensive" by the Taliban. "Let's focus on Afghanistan and get it right," she said.
I have an even better idea. Let's focus on 9/11. Let's have an honest investigation for a change. Let's find out -- once and for all -- whether Afghanistan had anything to do with it.

Maybe the Taliban were behind the attacks. Or maybe the Taliban were sheltering al-Q'aeda who were behind the attacks. Or maybe al-Q'aeda and the Taliban were merely blamed for the attacks. If we really knew, maybe we could decide what to do about it. But considering that we don't know, how can we decide anything? And for that matter, why are we in Afghanistan at all?

Are we still looking for Osama bin Laden? Sorry, he's dead. And according to the FBI, he was never wanted in connection with 9/11 anyway -- because they have no evidence against him.

So why are we still there?

This wouldn't have anything to do with a pipeline, would it?