Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Can A War Be Won By Appeasement?

While we await tomorrow's latest act of political theater, we should not forget about the rest of the world. Like Afghanistan.

President Obama started what is becoming a trend in the way we address the rest of the world. Other than showing how dysfunctional we are for all to see, we also are making a habit of apologizing.

It has long been the habit of Afghanistan's President Karzai to wag his finger under our nose and scold us for incurring civilian casualties. He seems to be taking great glee in this even though he knows full well there are two facts about war that will never change. People die. Civilians die.

We are now in the midst of a surge to take Marjah, a longtime Taliban Stronghold, where they use civilians as cover. We all know this. It has been going on since day one. Yet he goes before his Parliament waving a picture of a dead young child with his usual tsk, tsk. What happens? General McCrystal goes on Afghan TV and apologizes. What a way to fight a war.

The rules of engagement have changed to the point of making us far less effective than we could be. If an enemy combatant takes out three men then drops his rifle we cannot fire at him. We cannot call in air strikes until there is confirmation of a legitimate threat and collateral damage can be minimized. It is insanity.

We are propping up Karzai's government for some unclear reason. He literally has no army so why are we afraid of him? We allowed him to take office after a badly flawed election on the promise that he would clean up corruption. Why would we ever believe that he actually would?

He is throwing it in our face yet again. A commission was set up after the runoff election which put Karzai back in office to prevent another 1 million vote fraud. Three foreign members were appointed by the UN. Karzai has now signed a decree allowing himself the sole power in appointing commission members, relegating the UN experts to the sidelines.

He has also delayed anti-graft legislation which was to be completed by the end of February.

We can try to win the hearts and minds of the Afghan people all we want. We may actually succeed here and there, but to what end? To provide them with a functioning, democratic government out from under the thumb of the Taliban but under the thumb of Karzai and his thugs? Some choice. I would guess the people will side with whichever entity is most likely to just leave them alone.

As we keep the Taliban at bay Karzai has the time to strengthen his hold. When we leave, just as in Iraq, everything will be up for grabs. Some choice. Taliban rule or a dictatorship under Karzai.

Will we ever "cowboy up" and do what needs to be done and let the chips fall where they may? We have to stop worrying about what rogue governments think about how we conduct a war. Or we shouldn't fight them.

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