Friday, June 25, 2010

Under Obama, Afghanistan Becomes Lebanon

Ehud Barak and Barack Obama: More in common than a name?
In The Western Way Of War, Caroline Glick writes about the removal of General Stanley McChrystal by Obama--and about US policy in Afghanistan. Along the way, Glick notes the parallels between Obama's failed policy in Afghanistan and the results of Israel's war with Hezbollah in Lebanon:

Today US forces in Afghanistan are fighting in a manner that is depressingly similar to that forced upon IDF forces in Lebanon in the 1990s. Like the US forces in Afghanistan today, during the 1990s, concerns about civilian casualties caused Israel's political leadership to constrain IDF actions in southern Lebanon in a manner that effectively transformed soldiers into sitting ducks. Israel's finest were reduced to fighting from fortified positions and Hizbullah was given a free hand to intimidate Lebanese civilians, commandeer private homes and schools to use as firing positions and forward bases, and generally maintain the initiative in the fighting.

As he withdrew IDF forces from south Lebanon ten years ago - like Biden today - then prime minister Ehud Barak claimed that Israel didn't need boots on the ground to fight Hizbullah. If we needed to go in to fight, we would send in commando squads or fighter jets to do the job. Of course, as US drone operations in Pakistan again demonstrate, without a presence on the ground, you cannot have any certainty that you are attacking real targets.

The important story this week was not about a US general with abysmal judgment about the media. Rather the story is that in Afghanistan, the US is repeating a sorry pattern of Western nations of not understanding - or perhaps not caring -- that if you are not willing to fight a war to victory, you will lose it.

The stakes in Afghanistan are clear. NATO forces can defeat the Taliban, or the Taliban can defeat them. To win, all the Taliban needs to do is survive. Once NATO is gone, like Hizbullah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza, the Taliban will be crowned the victors and from their failed state, they will be able to again attack the US and its allies. [emphasis added]
Like Hezbollah, all that the Taliban needs in order to declare victory is to survive--and if US forces adhere to the schedule for withdrawal that Obama has laid out, the Taliban need only bide its time.

At least when Israel fights its wars, it fights to win, no matter how one may find fault with its tactics. That is not the case now in Afghanistan, and Americans will not need a Winograd Commission to see what went wrong.

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