By: Ryan Jaroncyk, THL Contributor
Make a choice: contain Al Qaeda or nation-build in Afghanistan.
General Stanley McChrystal, top commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan has called for more troops in Afghanistan, saying: "Failure to gain the initiative and reverse insurgent momentum in the near-term (next 12 months) -- while Afghan security capacity matures -- risks an outcome where defeating the insurgency is no longer possible." Afghan President, Hamid Karzai supports the general's recommendation.
But General McChrystal also said earlier this month that there is no evidence to suggest a major Al-Qaeda presence in the war torn country. In light of McChrystal's assessment, columnist George Will writes in a recent Washington Post op-ed: "If U.S. forces are there to prevent reestablishment of Al-Qaeda bases -- evidently there are none now -- must there be nation-building invasions of Somalia, Yemen and other sovereignty vacuums?"
If Al-Qaeda's presence has been virtually eliminated from Afghanistan, America's people and policy makers are faced with a clear choice. If hunting and containing Al-Qaeda is the chief objective, then George Will offers a practical solution worth serious consideration. He writes: "instead, forces should be substantially reduced to serve a comprehensively revised policy: America should do only what can be done from offshore, using intelligence, drones, cruise missiles, airstrikes and small, potent Special Forces units, concentrating on the porous 1,500-mile border with Pakistan..."
This is a sensible, strong, and fiscally responsible strategy. Casualty counts would drop, billions of dollars would be saved, civilian collateral damage would decrease, so many thousands of our troops would be able to return home to their families, and Al-Qaeda would be kept in check by a vigilant United States.
However, if the chief objective is to nation build in Afghanistan, then President Obama and Congress, should have the gumption to admit that this is really the primary objective. And if this is the primary objective, then these nation building advocates should own up to this policy, send 250,000 or so troops to Afghanistan from at home and around the world, and unleash total, absolute, and merciless devastation on the Taliban and Al-Qaeda remnants.
They must also square with the American people, propose a gargantuan budget, pass a war "stimulus" bill, or set aside up to $1 trillion for the effort. And they should be open and honest about the fact that we'll likely lose thousands more soldiers, with tens of thousands more maimed for life. But that, in their view, it would be worth it to keep America safe. There's no other way around it.
Bush's and Obama's half-measures have proven to be complete failures. Pussyfooting around is absolutely unforgivable to our men and women in harm's way. If these tough talking policy leaders, talking heads, and TV pundits believe it is in the best interest of the United States to nation build in Afghanistan for years to come, then they need to quit endorsing half-measures and do whatever it takes, regardless of cost or casualty counts, to "win" this war.
If these same people are willing to spend trillions to rescue Wall St. and to "save" America from another Great Depression, then they had better be willing to do the same for our men and women in harm's way. Period. It's an either-or decision. As for me, I think George Will's strategy is the far wiser choice.