Howzbout we surge ourselves right on out of that Hellhole?

Richard Haass: Let’s Un-Surge in Afghanistan –

To justify adopting a more narrow policy toward Afghanistan this spring, President Obama would need to cite several factors. First, the U.S. inability to eliminate the sanctuaries in Pakistan. Second, successful counterinsurgency depends on having a solid local partner. Two years of sustained investment and multiple but fraudulent elections suggest that Afghanistan’s central government will not reach the point where it is considered effective or legitimate by the bulk of its own people. All this argues for adopting a policy of counterterrorism rather than state-building.

There are also broader reasons to recast policy. The greatest threat to U.S. national security stems from our own fiscal crisis. Afghanistan is a significant contributor to this situation and could play an important role in reducing it. A savings of $75 billion a year could help finance much-needed military modernization and reduce the deficit.

Another factor is the increased possibility of a conflict with a reckless North Korea and the continued possibility of a confrontation with Iran over its nuclear program. U.S. military forces must be freed up to contend with these issues. The perception that we are tied down in Afghanistan makes it more difficult to threaten North Korea or Iran credibly—and makes it more difficult to muster the forces to deal with either if necessary.

Ultimately Afghanistan is a strategic distraction. U.S. interests there are limited. So, too, are the resources available for national security. It is not surprising that the commander in the field, Gen. David Petraeus, is calling for committing greater resources to the theater. But it is the commander-in-chief’s responsibility to take into account the nation’s capacity to meet all of its challenges, national and international. It is for this reason that the perspectives of Gen. Petraeus and President Obama must necessarily diverge.


4 comments on “Howzbout we surge ourselves right on out of that Hellhole?

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  1. It seems to me that a slight tweak of the Start Treaty terms re permitted warhead disposal methodology would open the way for solution of both problems in a very economical fashion.

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