To win in Afghanistan, President Obama should abandon his deadline to begin troop withdrawal by July 2011, says James Carafano, director of The Heritage Foundation’s foreign policy center.
“The best thing this president can do is to throw this timeline out the window,” he told Newsmax.
Obama should support Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, ask the general what he needs to win the war and then give it to him, Carafano says.
McChrystal was summoned to meet with Obama at the White House Wednesday after he and aides made comments to Rolling Stone magazine criticizing the administration’s handling of the war.
The general has offered to resign.
“Simply changing out name plates at the command tent in Kabul isn’t going to win this war,” Carafano said.
What McChrystal did was certainly wrong, Carafano says. “But he’s widely recognized as an effective military leader. Changing horses just because of careless comments to reporters may not be in the best interests of the nation.”
The White House would have been better off making the general apologize privately rather than creating an embarrassing public incident, Carafano says.
The military has reason to be upset with Obama over Afghanistan, he says. McChrystal last year gave the president three numbers for troop increases, with the highest (80,000), offering the best chance for success.
But Obama chose 30,000, near the middle option. “There was no other logic than I can’t give the high number, because then it will seem like I’m giving in to the military, and I don’t want to do the low number, because then I’ll seem weak on defense,” Carafano said.
“I’ll pick the middle number, because is the middle, which is nuts.”
And then the timeline sent all the wrong messages to our friends and enemies.
“You can imagine why the military feels the president has boxed us in,” Carafano said. “He’s putting some restraints on this that actually make things worse.”
Carafano has strong criticism for anyone who would have us abandon the fight in Afghanistan.
“After we run away, there is going to be genocide in Afghanistan, destabilization in Pakistan. There could be a war between Pakistan and India. Al-Qaida could come back. There are going to be more attacks on the U.S. It will be 9/11 on steroids.”
As for talk that the surge in Afghanistan isn’t working, it’s way too early to tell, Carafano says. The same thing was said of the Iraq surge right before it worked, he notes.
There may be al-Qaida operatives in Afghanistan, but they don’t control territory there, he says. Our military opponent there is really the Taliban.
“But all these people have a common cause, and we’re going to have to kick all of them to win. All these guys are affiliated.”
Still, we should realize that we won’t eliminate the Taliban, as a lot of the country’s citizens are part of it. “We have to defeat them, demobilize them and bring them into the political process make them live by the rule of law,” Carafano said.
As for al-Qaida in Afghanistan, “these are foreign people. You have to eliminate them because they are the sworn enemy of America.”
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