34,000 drops in the Afghan bucket

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.

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8 Responses to 34,000 drops in the Afghan bucket

  1. andylevinson says:

    The guy who doesn’t have the courage to show us his birth certificate is sending 34,000 more troops to the world’s largest opium/heroin producer on earth….huh

  2. Michael Peck says:

    Okay. Obama was born in a cardboard box. What does that have to do with deploying more troops to Afghanistan? Regardless of Obama’s birthplace and Afghan opium, any President would still be in a lose-lose situation when it comes to solving Afghanistan.

    • andylevinson says:

      Why aren’t we burning the opium field which are financing the “enemies” side of the war?

      If Obama won’t show us his birth certificate….then he isn’t President….

      • Michael Peck says:

        If we burn the opium, then the Afghan peasants starve and hate us. Better question is why we don’t just buy their opium from them and burn it ourselves.

        If I were President, I wouldn’t show you my birth certificate either. None of your damned business.

      • libtree09 says:


        Some weird comments.

        I largely agree with you however the area is a modern day Gordian knot, we have no real control over the governments of Pakistan or Afghanistan while the Taliban and their Paki secret service sponsors are definitely working against us. The horror is that Khan has been released and the bomb is a real time threat. The pragmatic solution is a million troops backed by India and occupation of both countries. It may come to that but I shutter at the thought. I hate American involvement in foreign countries and do not support any policy of occupation but if I were president the problem would really keep me up at night.

    • palavering says:


  3. palavering says:

    Michael, you answered your own questions in the second paragraph of your article. Obama wants to be president for eight years, although, when I ask myself why, I have no answer. He had to appease the hawks and the doves, so he’s sending troops, but sending them for a limited time. Therefore, party members on both sides of the aisle will agree partly with his policy. I think Obama understands that republicans and democrats are simply opposite sides of the same counterfeit coin. In sum, expect nothing from our representatives and rarely will you be disappointed.

    • Michael Peck says:

      That’s a cynical view, and one that I’m often tempted to subscribe to. However, one thing I have learned over the years is that leaders tend to end up with more responsibilities than solutions. Obama inherited a mess with no easy answers. He may be driven by craven politicking, or it could be that he’s a foreign policy newbie who’s not confident enough to refuse his field commander’s request for more troops. I don’t know. That’s why I really wish I could get inside his head.

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