President Obama has told visiting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that he will “finish the job” in Afghanistan and wipe out every last lurking terrorist. “Finish the job” is one of those expressions that politicians use a lot when they don’t know what the hell they are talking about. It is widely believed that Obama will approve a 34,000 soldier increase for the conflict when he speaks to the nation next week. US soldiers cost $1 million each per year in Afghanistan, which suggests that it might be cheaper to give the insurgents good jobs working for the post office or something similar to wean them from their brigand ways. How much more surging can we afford, particularly as it doesn’t seem to be working?
I am all for finding and killing GENUINE terrorists (as opposed to farmers or wedding party guests) who threaten the United States but I have to wonder what Obama has been smoking lately. There is no coherency to the policies that he appears to embrace, which are little more than mission creep seeking to rebuild central Asia. There is little or no al-Qaeda presence in Afghanistan while the presence in Pakistan appears to be fairly small and largely preoccupied with scurrying from one bolt hole to another. If the US successfully pressures al-Qaeda it will just move somewhere else and continue doing what it is doing, which does not appear to be very much. Is it really worth 100,000 troops on the ground at a cost of $170 billion per year? Not to mention lots of dead American soldiers.
The massive US troop presence in Afghanistan is there to fight the Taliban – which does not threaten the United States in any way, shape, or form – while shoring up Mr. Hundred Per Cent Hamid Karzai and his merry band of cutthroat thieves. Is Obama also telling the Indians wink-wink that he will next turn on the Muslims seeking to liberate Kashmir, who also do not threaten the US? Who’s next after that and where does it all end? If Obama seriously wants to “finish” it in Afghanistan he would gather in all of the country’s neighbors in a latter-day Congress of Vienna to work out a security formula that is acceptable to most of them and then pull out. Bring the troops home by Christmas.