Barack Obama’s plans are those of a man in a hurry to divert attention from issues back home. Clinton did it. Bush did it. He is doing it. The American tax payer will be shelling out $30 million in the first year for something s/he has no clue about. Is this revenge for 9/11? Prevention of another 9/11?
No. 30,000 more troops will go into Afghanistan so that Americans forget about their problems and feel good. There is more:
- The President vowed to start bringing American forces home from the strife-torn country by mid-2011, saying the US could not afford and should not have to shoulder an ‘‘open-ended commitment’’.
Has anyone asked the United States of America to send troops? Is this a UN initiative? How does America know that by 2011 it will be fine to move out? What are its plans? It is time Mr. Obama stopped talking as though it is a magnanimous gesture and the US will suffer. Cannot afford? Of course, it cannot. It has to take care of its own economy, but since that is a problem area the word ‘afford’ married to ‘strife-torn’ works like magic.
It cannot be a close-ended commitment and has to be open-ended unless there are specific plans. How can he promise to bring “this war to a successful conclusion”? Which war is he talking about? The one that has US drones? Or the one that is a civil war in which the US has no place? Or the one it is fighting in its mind?
- Obama set out a strategy seeking to reverse Taliban gains in large parts, increase pressure on Afghanistan to build its own military capacity and an effective government and step up attacks on the Al Qaeda in Pakistan.
The Taliban is also in Pakistan, which he does not speak about. The Al Qaeda is all over the place, but Pakistan is good enough. So, what is this talk about helping Afghanistan build its military capacity?
Defence secretary Robert Gates has done the defence job:
- “It is neither necessary nor feasible to create a modern, Western-style Afghan nation-state. Nor does it entail counterinsurgency from one end of Afghanistan to the other. We will not repeat the mistakes of 1989, when we abandoned the country only to see it descend into civil war, and then into Taliban hands.”
Just who does Mr Gates think he is? Does he know that Afghanistan has a long history and has survived many marauders? What does modern mean? I have said it before. Iraq was a modern state. Iran was a modern state. Until the interference started and the religious guys decided to take over control. The insurgency is not from Afghanistan but from outside, so the counter-insurgency will come from them.
The US abandoned the country and left it in the hands of the Taliban? Geez. The Afghans were fighting alongside the Russians against the Mujahideen, the holy warriors, who had the help of the United States of America!
Please, Mr. Obama, history is inconvenient truth. We just have to live with it.
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Just for fun, I like deconstructing photographs. This one is at a meeting between Hamid Karzai, Barack Obama and Asif Zardari. Here is what I think it could mean.
Obama is on centre-stage, naturally, looking earnest. His left hand is held up to emphasise a point but more to his home audience rather than the leaders flanking him. The wedding band is visible conveying the image of the family as a unit, symbolising the country as a unit
Karzai’s hands are joined together but there seems an opening between to keep options open; he is listening and his head is slightly bent towards Obama, and that could convey that he would probably be easier to tackle.
Zardari too has his hands joined and there is no room to manoeuvre; they are on the table, which means he won’t take risks. He is looking straight ahead, so the possibility of his listening through one ear and letting it out of the other are there. Also, he has a slight sneer, perhaps indicating that he knows more than he is willing to let out, or he knows what’s going on in Obama’s mind.