Ten American troops were killed at the weekend in two surprise attacks that caused alarm in Nato’s US-led coalition.
In one, hundreds of insurgents attacked a pair of isolated outposts in eastern Afghanistan, killing eight US soldiers and several Afghan policemen in the deadliest battle in 15 months. Scores more Afghan policemen were reportedly captured by the Taleban.
In the other an Afghan policeman opened fire on the American soldiers with whom he was working in central Wardak province, killing two and injuring three.
It was unclear whether the policeman was working for the Taleban or simply ran amok but the attack fuelled the distrust that many Nato soldiers already feel for the Afghan security forces that they are supposed to be working with and training as part of the coalition’s eventual exit strategy.
- Declare defeat. Obama can bow to political pressure (mainly from the Left), ignore his commanders and declare defeat which would give America yet another black eye on the world stage further hastening the devolution of the Greatest Nation on Earth to that of a mediocre has been; or
- Fight to Win. Obama can listen to his commanders on the ground in Afghanistan and finish the job started eight years ago.
To that end, military commanders are making their views known:
By openly declaring their views on the Afghan war, US military leaders have placed President Barack Obama in a bind as he faces a fraught decision over the troubled US-led mission.
Obama has refused to quickly approve a request from his commanders for a major troop build-up in Afghanistan, insisting first on a full vetting of the current strategy.
But while a war council takes place behind closed doors at the White House, top military officers have made no secret of their view that without a vast ground force, the Afghan mission could end in failure.
"They want to make sure people know what they asked for if things go wrong," Lawrence Korb, a former assistant secretary of defense, told AFP.
As a result, if Obama chooses to change course in Afghanistan or decline a request for large numbers of troops, he will be rejecting the advice of the US military, raising the political stakes.
Commentators on the left say the military ought to keep its advice private without trying to influence public debate, with New York Times columnist Frank Rich accusing the generals of an attempt to "try to lock him (Obama) in" on Afghanistan.
The White House meanwhile acknowledged some members of Obama's team have been reading "Lessons in Disaster," a book about flawed decision-making in the
In the book, author Gordon Goldstein suggests the late president John F. Kennedy, if he had lived, would have rejected the military's demand for combat troops in Vietnam -- as he had lost faith in his generals' advice after the Bay of Pigs fiasco in Cuba.
"Perhaps this is Obama's JFK moment," George Packer of the New Yorker wrote
in his blog. "We?ll know in a few weeks."
The problem for the President and his allies on the Left is that Afghanistan is, as Obama himself has said, the "appropriate war" and, just as importantly, Afghanistan is NOT Vietnam.
Unlike Osama Bin Laden and Al Quaeda, Ho Chi Minh never had North Vietnamese live in 'sleeper-cell' clusters throughout the U.S., nor did Ho Chi Minh send covert operators to commit more than 3,000 mass murders on American soil.
Unlike Afghanistan, Vietnam was never used as a base from which to dispatch terrorists all over the world.
Unlike Al Quaeda and its Taliban abettors in Afghanistan, Vietnam was never really a direct threat to America and its citizens.
If the President chooses to ignore the threat of Afghanistan by ignoring the commanders on the ground, America and its allies will leave the entire world open to more terrorist attacks which could easily make 9/11 pale in comparison.