The Obama plan…

by Dafydd on 11/10/2009 · 2 comments

The FT thinks it has got a clear idea on what Obama is about to decide.

The McChrystal plan is not accepted in its entirety, because the cost of $1trn over ten years is ‘too much and too long’. This begs the question – if we aren’t prepared to do what it takes, should we even be there?

It also raises a query on what McChrystal was thinking when he put his request in, was he asking for more than he could ever get as a negotiating ploy? Or was he (perish the thought) insuring his reputation against failure (i.e. allowing himself to say at some future time… “we would have won, but the politicians didn’t resource the mission properly”). Because if he genuinely believes that his request is the minimum committment necessary to ensure success, and the Obama decision falls short of that, his position must be close to untenable.

The writer in the FT thinks the McChrystal plan can be scaled back from nation building like in Japan post 1945 to a more realistic (e.g. Bangladesh) target. I am unconvinced by this assertion.

There is also the suggestion that Karzai’s appointments are going to be vetted by some US authority. This seems to me to be a doomed idea. Karzai (doubtless) owes many people who helped him win the count (if not the election). If he doesn’t pay those debts his authority is shot to pieces. Also, if the appointment of regional/provincial governors and government ministers depends on the say so of US people, then Karzai’s authority is shot to pieces.

To my mind, should the Obama decision be followed by the sort of quick wins we saw after the Iraqi surge, there is a real chance of keeping allies (Europeans) on board and ultimate success.

If not, the coalition / NATO end of this (as opposed to the US) will pretty quickly disappear. That includes the UK contingent.

I haven’t seen the Obama plan yet, and I was overly pessimistic before the Iraqi surge, but I don’t see much evidence of anything coming out of Washington that will change the direction of this war.

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This post was written by...

– author of 23 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

I am a UK citizen & resident with a long standing interest in Central Asia. This probably has something to do with student days, a late night TV show called 'The Silk Road' and a TV with no remote control. I currently work in software and live with my wife & three children.

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M Shannon November 10, 2009 at 9:46 pm

We should try to clarify what McChrystal actually asked for: 80,000 US combat troops and 1.2 civilians in Afghanistan for every US soldier. At least $ 100 billion extra per year in direct costs for personnel plus whatever it would take to house and supply six or eight brigades and another two “brigades” worth of western civilians. For every dollar spent there will be another $ 2 in long term costs and interest so he actually proposed an additional $ 3 trillion dollars over a decade above current costs.

In effect he asked for a tripling of the US effort and to what end?
He’ll get less than he asked for but it’s still wasted money that will weaken the US.

Toryalay Shirzay November 13, 2009 at 12:17 am

M Shannon, it seems you don’t support this war and you have thus cooked up those numbers to suit your purpose.
This is not Vietnam;the Vietnamese didn’t go attacking major US and European cities,so lets not lose focus here.This war is a must win for the West if they ever wish to live in peace.The fact is that the US/NATO/UN have mismanaged the war in Afstan and this is why we see not much progress there.One of the biggest problem is this: there is one thing the Americans love more than money and that is spending money;the Americans love to throw money at everything ,tons of it ,and for some reason ,most of this money end up in the hands of crooked ones and other questionable characters.How can this be explained? anyone? The truth is this Afstan war need not cost the 100 or more billions that has been mentioned and a good chunk of this has been wasted and although some Afghans have benefited,most Afghans ,the powerless benefited next to nothing,witness the conditions in Afstan.If all that money had been spent wisely on Afghanistan,it would have been a rich country by now.
The West must fight corruption in Afstan with the same zeal it fights international terrorism or risk losing the war.It must find ways to compel the corrupt Karzai regime to abandon its shameless behavior or bring Karzai to trial.The Afghans love public on TV trial of corrupt officials including Karzai himself ;they will get a big kick out of this and will look favorably on whoever does this.

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