Obama Should Boost Troops in Afghanistan

Let's hope we didn't dissipate too much of our power in Iraq.

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By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

President Obama, though he launched his campaign by opposing the Iraq War, should support what looks like a military recommendation to boost the troop presence in Afghanistan. From the New York Times:

The emerging debate follows the delivery Monday of a new strategic assessment by Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, who took over all American and NATO forces in Afghanistan in June. Mr. Gates has now forwarded the general's report of about 25 pages to Mr. Obama.

His administration is divided, with foreign policy expert Vice President Joe Biden opposing a build-up in Afghanistan. Biden believes instead the United States should deploy scarce resources to help stabilize Pakistan.

Our invasion of Iraq was a huge mistake and it is feared no matter when U.S. troops pull out—a year from now or 20 years from now—that country could dissolve into tribal and civil war. I still don't have a clear understanding of why the Bush administration entered Iraq—the most likely reason seems either to be to try to control its rich oil reserves, or to boost the value of Halliburton's corporate stock.

We'll ponder that one for decades. But the attack on Afghanistan's Taliban after 9/11 was a well-reasoned and thoroughly justified decision. The mistake the Bush administration made in Afghanistan was to invade half-heartedly and never mount the type of full-scale effort needed to roust the Taliban from Afghanistan and, quite frankly, from neighboring Pakistan. The question now is whether we have the manpower (and womanpower) to complete the job, and with so much military muscle wasted in Iraq, the answer to that question may sadly be no.