McCain’s solution to the violence breaking out in Iraq was to send in more troops. Fortunately at the same time General David H. Petraeus began to bribe the Sunnis who were feeling left out in the distribution of economic goodies and resentful of their loss of dominance under the Hussein regime. Probably Petraeus’ move was the more effective one in reducing violence. It has now begun to escalate once again and my casual observation is that it is the Shiites that are taking the brunt of the civilian killings. Could be that the Sunnis are feeling excluded again?
Iraq is a far simpler package to manipulate than Afghanistan. It consists of only 3 major groups — the Kurds who are happily doing their own thing in the north. The Shiites who are largely running the show. The Sunnis who only make up about 20% of the population, have no direct access to oil wealth, and who have been displaced from their home locations and/or are emigrating to escape persecution in Iraq.
Afghanistan for its part has no such neat and tidy divisions to which we can appeal. It is a melange of hundreds of tribes or clans and subdivisions of these down to the village level. It is spread out over hard to reach let alone dominate land areas — all those mountains and valleys that offer shelter and escape routes for attackers.
Summarily, I don’t see how Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal’s call for yet more troops is going to do much more than provide more body bag materials for our brave troops — 51 died in August alone. To dominate Afghanistan we would have to send in virtually our entire army — it is such a large territory spread widely and with so many hiding places and escape routes as noted. Looks to me like this guy is giving us the conventional military answer — send me more army and I can do it!
Rather what we need in Afghanistan and what I suspect is what Obama is searching for is something like the Petraeus effort. However, I don’t know whether we have the knowhow to do this. Our boy Karzai is despised as our puppet. Where else can we go after a spoiled election? Maybe it is time to pack up and get out to let the Afghans do their own thing?
Yes, I know the Taliban are nasty people, but so do most of the Afghans.
What do you think?
“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)
Ed Kent 212-665-8535 (voice mail only) [blind copies]