Nothing like dueling Steves (see previous post).
….Ultimately, though, the Obama strategy in Afghanistan and the Bush strategy in Iraq are more alike than different–variations on a theme rather than stark alternatives. Both were attempts to give a beleaguered ally an opportunity to reverse its slide into disaster. And both were gambles. In Iraq, President Bush bet that the Maliki government would rein in sectarian violence, and that the Iraqi Security Forces were nearly ready to assume responsibility for their nation’s security. This panned out. Now President Obama is making the same bet. His strategy is contingent on the Afghan security forces, bolstered by increased assistance from the U.S. military, being able to conduct counterinsurgency on its own by 2011. Even more importantly, Obama’s plan is contingent on the Karzai government’s reining in its crushing corruption and addressing the myriad problems that the Afghan people face. If the Afghan security forces or the Karzai government are not up to the task, nothing the United States can do will matter. A surge of 20,000, 30,000, or 100,000 would be equally irrelevant. Unfortunately, only President Karzai and the Afghan security forces can determine whether the Obama strategy works. Our fate is in their hands.
Read the rest here.
Steve has spotted a poor contingency for the administration to rely upon. Putting the war strategy on Karzai’s performance is akin to building a house on quicksand. It might look a little like wet cement but it is not going to harden into a foundation no matter how much time passes. We need to work within the parameters of our own capacities and with realistic and not utopian options.
We’d garner more goodwill giving every Afghan child a pony than by waiting for villagers to see honest officials from Kabul appear. It’d be cheaper too.