Friday, October 23, 2009

Troops Can't Wait

A great Article!
Written by Investor's Business Daily
Afghanistan: The president's decision to withhold more troops over the country's less-than-pristine election is nothing but stalling. For our soldiers, desperate for reinforcements, it's a slap in the face.

No doubt, a legitimate government, complete with free and fair elections, would be good for Afghanistan. Its Aug. 20 vote was loaded with trouble because the Taliban sliced off purple-inked fingers to discourage voting and because a United Nations electoral watchdog found widespread voter fraud.

Yes, correct the problems. But holding U.S. troop reinforcements hostage isn't the way to do it. Elections aren't why we have troops in that country. They're there to fight a war against terrorists that President Obama once declared to be "necessary."

Time is growing short, and the Taliban insurgency is gaining ground. Pakistan has struck hard against the Taliban in its western region, a campaign that could drive more terrorists into Afghanistan and make our war harder. Terrorist recruiting is up and the Taliban doesn't lack money. The Pentagon consensus is that the window to win is closing and the opportunity will be lost soon.

That makes the sudden concern about elections a stall.

Instead of acting on the August recommendations of our commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, to send 40,000 reinforcements, the administration is delaying that hard decision. In an eerie echo of the criticism anti-war Democrats made against South Vietnam before it was abandoned to the communists, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said over the weekend that new troops would have to wait because of the electoral woes.

The delay makes winning more difficult, and it's a betrayal of U.S. troops who are fighting and dying in a war they can't suspend just to let Afghanistan get its electoral act together. The troops need backup, and to them more support is not a political carrot.

There's no word from the administration about whether President Hamid Karzai's agreement to hold a runoff election on Nov. 7 is good enough for more troops. As the election problem looks to move to resolution due to diplomatic muscle — we give credit to Sen. John Kerry for pressing Karzai — the White House seems to be signaling more stalls will follow. One staffer said that a meeting on reinforcements will have to wait until the middle of next week because Defense Secretary Robert Gates — who obliquely criticized the idea of using the electoral issue to delay reinforcements — is traveling. Next week, it will be something new.

Troops on the ground can't wait. Already constrained by unworkable rules of engagement, they are dying in unacceptable numbers. The victory plan McChrystal presented has seen no action. Morale has fallen. Troops say they no longer see a clear mission and just want to get through their tours.

The stalling is also affecting our NATO allies, who are beginning to cut away as Obama's dithering pushes them to question his commitment. Obama's second strategic war review — in which McChrystal recommended a troop buildup — raised eyebrows in Europe about what the U.S. really wants.

Since then, France has said it won't send a "single soldier more," Japan has declared its refueling mission over, and Vice President Joe Biden is visiting Eastern Europe, probably to plead for more troops. Our allies can see that Obama isn't supporting his own commander and want no part of fighting and dying in a war he has no taste to win.

Our troops have no such options, and Obama's failure to act suggests that a terrible setup, wittingly or unwittingly, is building for them to lose the war and be hung out to dry. Obama must act now on troops for Afghanistan's sake and our own.
Written by Investor's Business Daily

Bookmark and Share

No comments: