Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Obama's Dangerous Policy

Finally, President Obama will announce today the details of his new policy on Afghanistan. It won't make pretty reading, by all accounts. He won't give the US armed forces the troops they want (30,000, rather than the 40,000 they have demanded) and will announce some sort of timetable for withdrawal. Every military expert I have spoken to thinks this will give succour to the enemy. I have always thought putting timetables on leaving is a very dangerous policy and I was horrified when Gordon Brown appeared to tiptoe to do the same thing. The only reason Brown and Obama are doing this is to placate domestic political audiences who would prefer an immediate withdrawal. There is no military sense in it.

16 comments:

Ean Craigie said...

Iain Agreed but you must remember we have one leader who has no experience and another who has never had an original thought in his life, both are navel gazers who cannot see past the next election

Lola said...

You didn't seriously ever think that Obama or Brown would have a clue, or even vaguely care about, good military strategy did you? Two more epically militarily clueless 'leaders' you couldn't hope to find.

Will Knock said...

I think there's a massive difference between timetables for withdrawal and published timetables for withdrawal. There's nothing wrong with producing one and circulating it amongst the major parties/the important relevant committees. Then they can hold government to account on our behalf.

subrosa said...

Brown doesn't want to listen to the military. He doesn't even have a war cabinet and we will shortly have over 10,000 troops in the front line of a war. But of course we can't call it a war. It's to be called 'a humanitarian operation directed against terrorists and rogue states'.

Man in a Shed said...

What Lola said.

Andromeda said...

Why did Brown announce that Afghanistan is going to get 500 troops before Obama shows his hand? What if Obama suddenly said, "Nah, f*ck this for a laugh, we're pulling out tomorrow." Wouldn't that make the British look, not to put too fine a point on it, rather foolish?

If Obama decided not to commit any more troops, then Brown would have committed 500 British soldiers' lives to be sacrificed for nothing.

Is British diplomacy missing a trick or two in showing such unquestioning eagerness?

Personally, I find it embarrassing that the British have a prime minister that shows such dog like devotion, such unthinking support. Did Obama say "walkies" to the Brown Dog? Or did he just say "Let us get more of our soldiers killed in the name of the stupid people who thought invading Afghanistan was a good idea?

For Blair and for Bush! Into the valley of death! For the land which values the career and hurt feelings of a single possibly lesbian Yeowoman to be worth more than the careers of two Yeomen with dependents. That is what British soldiers are dying for.

When are they going to say "F*ck that for a laugh"?

Cllr Peter cairns (SNP) said...

If you have come to the conclusion that ultimately the solution lies with your ally taking over the fighting of the war without what should you do?

If you conclude that they are unwilling to take on that responsibility as long as the think you will stay and fight it for them then you have a choice.

You can keep fighting the war for them indefinitely if nothing changes or you can make it clear what the limits of support are and how long they will last.

So far iains view and the comments of Focused on how this will be seen by the Taleban and in the mid west.

I think the message is very much focused on the Government in Kabul.

The timetable is for them in that it says this is what we will put in and for how long and tahts the time the have left to get in to shape to fight this war on there own.

By that time they need , and we need to make them capable of not just fighting this war but gaining the support of enough Afghans to be able to stand on their own.

The alternatives are to;

Stay for decades to come proping up a corrupt government that doesn't need to fight its own war or command the support of the people, effectively laughing all the way to its Swis bank or,

Pull out now and abandon the Afghan people to another civil war and probably the return of the Taleban because we don't want to keep fighting and haven't been able to put in place a government as stable as the one we deposed.

There are no easy answers here but with regards to the government in Kabul I suspect that of the three options;

Cold turkey,
Feed their habit , or
try to wean them off it.

Wean them off it is probably the best we can go for.

Peter.

trevorsden said...

AS I understand it - Obama has spent 3 months deciding to commit troops and given them 9 months to complete their task.

A bit disproportionate.

It will take a lot longer than 9 months to train Afghan security forces.

Either we are being lied to or in fact this is just an attempt to create a window for withdrawal.

If someone can tell me what Will Knock is talking about I will be grateful.

Shamik said...

You mentioned the O word! :) Agree with you on Afghanistan though. If the Taleban get back in, al-q'aeda return and people here and in the States start to die, who do you think the public will blame? On issues like this pandering to the whim of public opinion is surely the worst of all worlds; the military experts (like McChrystal) are the ones who should be listened to.

quietzapple said...

Obvious they intend to send a strong message to the Afghans.

Let us hope they note it with greater acuity than some.

Old Slaughter said...

There has been no military sense to any of it. Why does this latest announcement feel any different?

Nigel said...

There is no military sense in our presence in Afghanistan, so any timetable for withdrawal is an improvement.

Unless you favour staying there forever.

Paddy Briggs said...

The excellent Rory Stewart gets it 100% right - and the ludicrous Boris Johnson 100% wrong. You are on the side of the angels on this one Iain. Totally agree with you...

Gipper said...

Mr Dale - was it not a little over a year ago you wrote a piece in the Daily Telegraph "endorsing" Obama? Do you regret that?

canvas said...

"Cheney was asked if he thinks the Bush administration bears any responsibility for the disintegration of Afghanistan because of the attention and resources that were diverted to Iraq. "I basically don't," he replied without elaborating."

wtf??! I cannot believe that one. George Bush and Tony Blair really screwed up - big time.

canvas said...

Gipper > Obama is doing a very good job. What is regretful are the Bush/Cheney/Blair/Brown years. This war is their legacy. Obama is unravelling the disasters they created.

PS> Foreign affairs are not Iain's thing anyway. That's a well documented fact.