I don’t have a telepathic telescope into Obama’s mind,. If I did, the Secret Service would arrest me. But I would give two weeks of scarce Oregon winter sunshine to find out what he really expects to gain by sending 34,000 additional troops to Afghanistan.
Does he really believe that sending 34,000 more troops to Afghanistan will change anything? Is he listening to the advice of his military advisers, or his political instincts (as in, “I don’t want to be the president who lost Afghanistan”)? Does he really think, like those bull-headed butchers in World War I, that just one push will bring victory? Or is just making a gesture to prove that he tried before he withdraws from Afghanistan?
For the life of me, I can’t understand what Obama expects from putting more boots on the ground. Militarily, the U.S. is secure in the absolute sense. No Taliban panzer divisions are going to blitz us out of Afghanistan, so we don’t need more troops to safeguard our presence. In fact, more troops creates a more target-rich environment for the Taliban.
As for counterinsurgency, if the 50,000 troops we have now can’t do it, then why would 100,000 succeed? We had 500,000 at the height of the Vietnam War, and that didn’t work. Of those 34,000 troops, only a fraction will be fighting the Taliban, while the rest fix trucks, operate computers and create those awesome Powerpoints without which the U.S. military would degenerate into an armed mob. Assuming it’s even possible to crush the Taliban militarily, we’re going to need a lot more soldiers than that to both protect the population and destroy Taliban sanctuaries. If the idea is to prop up the Afghan government and army long enough for them to pick up the burden, then we don’t need so many troops. Just trainers and advisers, backed up by air power and some quick-response Marine and Special Forces units. We may not be able to defeat the Taliban, but we don’t need 100,o00 troops to keep them from defeating the Karzai government.
Obama seems to have chosen the middle course between an all-out effort to crush the Taliban and simply withdrawing from the country. It’s a strategy that seems designed not to win, despite the rhetoric. Rather, it seems like a wishful strategy to avoid losing. That’s no way to fight a war.