My dear Mr. President, now that you've been preemptively awarded the Nobel Peace prize, I hope you see that it's time to go whole-shark fishing in Afghanistan, or else cut bait and bring all our valiant guys and gals home. More dithering is simply not an option. There are only two ways to go here, either all in or all out. Staying in without the means to bring a just peace in the end is just fool's play with innocent lives.
Since I'm about as much an expert on war as you seem to be, I decided to get some high-profile military insights for myself. A genuine Iraq-war hero, who just happened to be part of the unit who rousted Saddam Hussein from his hidey hole, is a man with whom I've had some conversations about war. Lt. Col. Steve Russell (Ret.) was also the founder of Vets for Victory and has recently been elected as a state senator in Oklahoma.
You might want to consider having Steve to your next beer summit, Barry honey. Y'all can have one of those man-o to man-o teaching moments.
Lt. Col. Russell (Ret.) seems to think it's fish-or-cut-bait-time in Afghanistan, too. And he agrees that our former president, with whom you yourself have had some measure of disagreement, didn't do such a great job managing the Afghan war either.
On that score, he says: "From the beginning, we have been trying to fight this war ‘on the cheap.' In 2002 we had an insane, self-imposed force cap of a mere 5,000 soldiers. Over time we have only sent driblets until we barely have enough to fight with today."
Now that General McChrystal has put his own career on the line by speaking out and putting the safety of his troops and achievement of the mission ahead of personal gain -- we the people, better understand what's at stake with your decision on the requested troop surge. We know, too, that cutting and running in Afghanistan would send a loud-and-clear message of weakness that would embolden every hell-bent warmonger on the planet.
General McChrystal is renowned as an expert in Petraeus' counter-insurgency strategy, the kind that worked in Iraq. We civilians have assumed that's why you picked him. Now, Barry honey, I haven't read the entire manual on counter-insurgency, but I've read enough to know that it's a very troop-dependent, troop-intensive strategy. And, by gosh, it works.
Lt. Col. Russell (Ret) told me plainly: "As the shift in strategy (the surge) proved in Iraq, our military leaders have shown they know how to fight. When resources were provided, they delivered rapid success. They cannot do it in Afghanistan without proper resources."
Robert Kaplan, writing in the Atlantic this week, has some notable advice for you, too. In a pointed reminder to you and your loose-lipped staff, he notes that the "public agony" over your deliberations "may have already done incalculable damage." Mr. Kaplan emphasizes the fact that the Afghan people "have survived three decades of war by hedging their bets," and are now deciding at both personal and group levels whether "to make their peace with the Taliban." According to Mr. Kaplan, "this is how coups and revolutions get started, by the middle ranks sensing weakness in foreign support for their superiors." James Lewis, at American Thinker, has also chimed in with what seems a prescient warning for you, Mr. President. Noting the strategic importance of Afghanistan in the whole Middle East, he warns "if we lose in Afghanistan and the Taliban win, and they can combine with their brethren in Pakistan to get control over a nuclear weapon, we will see an Al Qaeda look-alike with nukes. That's what Cheney and Bush were warning us about. India can't afford that, and they are quickly arming up. China can't afford it either."
Watch out, Barry honey, Afghanistan is starting to resemble a mighty dangerous-to-the-whole-world domino.
With nine whole months under your belt as Commander-in-Chief, I'm sure you're coming to grips with the heinously inconvenient truth that achieving genuine peace is a bit trickier than reading a teleprompter or schmoozing with late-night comics or giving suck-up-to-bad-guys aid grants.
Now, all human beings with heads for reality know every war is hell. Those a cut above the minimum grade also understand that peace without justice is an evil mockery of all things good. The real heroes in our midst comprehend the insanity of waging half-hearted wars, which leave nothing but carnage in their wakes and nary a single good thing to show for the sacrifice. Listen to the heroes, Sir. They're giving you sound advice.
And voting "present" simply will not do.
Copyright 2009 Creators Syndicate. Published by special arrangement.