Cross posted at The Next Right
From the Wall Street Journal today:
“American public support for the Afghan war will dissipate in less than a year unless the Obama administration achieves ‘a perceptible shift in momentum,’ Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in an interview.
“Mr. Gates said the momentum in Afghanistan is with the Taliban, who are inflicting heavy U.S. casualties and hold de facto control of swaths of the country."
. . .
“‘People are willing to stay in the fight, I believe, if they think we're making headway,’ he said. ‘If they think we're stalemated and having our young men and women get killed, then patience is going to run out pretty fast.’”
Though preparing to send 21,000 more US troops to Afghanistan, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates sounds like a man planning for defeat. A year's timetable is not the attitude someone planning to win expresses publicly.
Imagine Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner saying the Obama administration has a year to turn the recession around or American public support for the administration will dissipate. Ain’t gonna happen.
So, why did Gates say this? He’s way too smart and accomplished in public service to make Joe Biden type gaffes.
It looks to be a trial balloon from the Obama administration about allowing the Taliban to retake Afghanistan and let Bin Laden and al qaeda operate there openly again rather than commit to any sort of sustained US effort in Afghanistan.
Obama is really between a rock and a hard place. He has cultivated an anti-war base that abominates anything but short, easy wars. He’s for timetables that assure either swift success or withdrawal. Iraq would be at risk too, except Bush spent almost six long, hard years preparing them to defend themselves.
One measure of the uphill battle to win in Afghanistan is the number of US casualties so far this year. Three-quarters as many troops have died in Afghanistan (60 in 2009) as in Iraq (80 in 2009) despite that fact that there are four times more US troops in Iraq (130,000) than in Afghanistan (31,000). In effect, there are three times as many casualties in Afghanistan per 10,000 troops than in Iraq.
Is the Obama administration basically throwing in the towel and admitting that the Bush toughness in Iraq turned that war around, but, Obama’s soft international demeanor makes winning against even relatively weak but determined enemies unlikely?