Thursday, June 23, 2011

We're gettin' out of Dodge

That's the basic message behind the President's Afghanistan talk.

Taster's Choice Freeze Dried version:

1. Within 5 months, 10k are leaving.
2. Within 12 months another 22k.
3. By 2014 we'll be completely outta Dodge.
4. We'll make efforts to solidify the gains we have made since 2009 as we also exit stage left.
5. We hope the Taliban and other Afghans will politically solve their problems. That's why we've been negotiating with the Talibs.
6. We hope to work with the Afghans and Paks in rooting out safe havens for terrorists.
7. There are no American boots on the ground in Libya. (Huh? What's that got to do with the price of Saffron in Afghanistan?)
8. It's time to nation-build at home. No more money for wars. (Please reference the document "National Strategic Narrative" for philosophical underpinnings of this particular.)

Quick hitter Reactions? 

Re: 4. Will be difficult-to-impossible to solidify gains with less boots.

Re 5: Good luck with that - or - 'hope ain't no strategy.'

Re: 6, If we are going to have Pak as an ongoing and probably worsening concern, wouldn't it be prudent to maintain or increase presence in Afghanistan? What better way to assure access to safe havens in the border areas of Pak or Hey Abbotabad and other such resort towns known to be frequented by the barbarian?

Re 7: Better not to talk about that Libya thing.

Re 8: Where are you going to get the cabbage for this?

What are other folks saying?

First, from the above linked CFR, Richard Haass

Freeze Dried version:

It doesn't go far enough, quickly enough. Let's drawn down to 20-25k by 2012. Oh..and gimme some more of that "strategic investment in our future competitiveness and capacity to lead."

Also from CFR, Max Boot

FDVr:

The "fragile and reversible gains" we've made in Helmand and Kandahar (South) will exhibit that fragility and reversibility.

Eastern Afghanistan? We weren't really there to begin with. 33k didn't cut it. So, 'fawgetaboudit.'

NATO allies will start to skedaddle out of Dodge (French already say so), and the Talibs will wait out our departure. They are as giddy as schoolgirls.

The Afghans are not trained up, and will buckle.

Things ain't looking good for Dodge City. Nosiree.

From David Betz at Kings of War

Tetley Freeze Dried Version: 

The Taliban are happy campers, indeed, as giddy as schoolgirls, what with safe havens in Pak and us a-leavin' soon.

They'll wait us out. They're no fools.

White House made this announcement because, even though they won't say it, they think there is no amount of NATO or American presence that will bring about a victory. Oh, and there's an election on roundabout November of 2012.

Our Afghan allies are sweating this to say the least,

or as Betz puts it:

But let’s be honest about how this really translates. For Americans: ‘this war is done. Soldiers, thank you for your efforts but it’s over. Vote for me.’ For Afghans: ‘this war is done. Sort yourselves out. Good luck.’ Domestically, it’s probably a savvy move–it gets Afghanistan off the electoral agenda. In Afghanistan, though, how much do you want to bet that all those people to to whom we’re hoping to handover responsibility have in their hands right now a second passport or are thinking desperately how they can get one fast?
That's as good a Tetley/Sanka/Taster's Choice Freeze Dried synopsis as could be rendered.