Friday, March 27, 2009

Can We Believe in It?

When the President announces a new strategy for a country we're militarily active in...and the strategy involves moving more troops into the country, is that change we can believe in? It happened today. President Obama announced a metrics driven strategy for U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and Pakistan. It calls for an additional 4,000 military troops - beyond the 17,000 additional personnel scheduled for deployment in a couple of months - all of whom are added to the 38,000 already on the ground in the area. "Oh," I sighed as I heard the news while I sped across a Texas highway this morning, "This does not sound like change." I am now home, at my desk. I have read the President's new strategic plan. I have reviewed stories in The Washington Post, at Voice of America, and on the BBC. Yes, we are sending more troops. The primary mission is to "train Afghan security forces" and "confront the enemy." This does not sound like change. Except this time, at least, we are going to send our elite forces - the 82nd Airborne Division...the All American team - to do the work. Not National Guardsmen. And we're going to measure our progress every step of the way. The President says our goal in the region is not a re-vamped, U.S. style government in Afghanistan, but stopping Al Queda. The President also says the work to defeat Al Queda must involve Pakistan to be successful. Gulp. I do hate it when we start rattling our swords toward Pakistan. But, wait a minute... It's not "bombs and bullets" Obama is proposing in Pakistan, but a bit of compassion. $1.5 billion a year in aid. For five years. That's money, of course, tied to cooperative behaviors from Pakistan's government - but, money, nonetheless earmarked for things like education, hospitals, and job creation. Wow. These Pakistanis are the folks who turn a blind eye to the hills that provide save havens for the world's most feared terrorists. Are we really going to love the people who love our enemies? Guess what we've found out about Pakistanis? They don't necessarily love terrorists. They like clean water and schools and opportunities to succeed, just like most people. Has President Obama figured out how to win friends and defeat our enemies? The administration's Director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair, said yesterday that as many as two-thirds of the Taliban groups protecting Al Queda are motivated by local concerns, and could be defeated or pacified by addressing problems like inadequate water supplies or access to education. President Obama will take his strategic plan to our NATO allies next week. He says he'll ask them to help us train Afghan security forces, and will propose they make a "greater civilian commitment" to the area. He says we will lead the way. This sounds like believable change. The kind that really could lead to peace.

1 comment:

gay said...

Hope, it's why he got my vote.