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Ear to the Ground

U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Rains on Surge Parade

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Posted on Nov 11, 2009
U.S. Marine Corps / Cpl. Daniel Martin Moman

Karl W. Eikenberry, a former top-ranking general who once commanded allied forces in Afghanistan and now leads America’s diplomatic mission in Kabul, has reportedly urged President Obama to delay any escalation of the war until Hamid Karzai does something about his notoriously corrupt government.

The Washington Post reports that Eikenberry sent two strongly worded classified cables to President Obama, communiqués that have “rankled his former colleagues in the Pentagon—as well as Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal.”

The president is considering four options for the war, all of which, according to leaks published in major papers, would increase U.S. troop levels by at least 20,000.

There are currently 68,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, serving with 33,000 other NATO personnel.  —PZS

Washington Post:

The U.S. ambassador in Kabul sent two classified cables to Washington in the last week expressing deep concerns about sending more U.S. troops to Afghanistan until Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s government demonstrates that it is willing to tackle the corruption and mismanagement that has fueled the Taliban’s rise, said senior U.S. officials.

Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry’s memos were sent in the days leading up to a critical meeting Wednesday between President Obama and his national security team to consider several options prepared by military planners for how to proceed in Afghanistan. The proposals, which mark the last stage of a months-long strategy review, all call for between 20,000 to 40,000 more troops and a far broader American involvement of the war.

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By radson, November 12, 2009 at 4:05 pm Link to this comment

The US war on terror in Viet-Stan is good business,as long as the profits outweigh the costs then the MIC is happy.The only problem at the moment is the Pakistani unpredictability ,but what the hell you can’t have it all.One day the US will pull out ,but then they’ll be pulling in elsewhere,perhaps Sudan/Somalia ,but Venezuela is probably the juiciest morsel on the menu,after all we gotta keep the terrorists at bay ,oh and don’t forget the war on drugs.

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By gerard, November 12, 2009 at 3:05 pm Link to this comment

The most modest option calls for deploying an additional 10,000 to 15,000 troops. While under consideration at the White House, the proposal holds little merit for military planners because, after building bases to accommodate 10,000 or so additional soldiers and Marines, the marginal cost of adding troops beyond that figure would rise only slightly. WP 11/12/09

Notice the deceptive language:  “most modest” (as though all proposals are “modest” and this is the “most modest” one!  ...“holds little merit for military planners” (as though they (sitting in think tanks in Washington or at the Pentagon) deserve primary consideration) ...“marginal cost of adding troops beyond (10-20,000) .. (how many billions of dollars?  And how many ruined or lost lives is “marginal cost”)?  And again:  ” (Costs) would rise only slightly.” Cost of buildings or cost of soldiers’ lives?  And lives of others killed will rise only slightly” and be only “slightly” destroyed?
  This kind of unconscious (?) disregard for the meaning of language is one of the huge danger signals that haunts us these days.  It’s a stark reminder of Jonathan Swift’s “Modest Proposal” that skewered the British with sarcasm:  (To get rid of the “Irish Problem” the British should just butcher and eat Irish children.)
  It would seem we are near the borderlands of insanity. Keep cool. Think deep. Speak carefully Act wisely. Hang onto a rock and help slow the current.

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By Folktruther, November 12, 2009 at 12:18 pm Link to this comment

Obama has been mulling over a crucial decision; how to escalate the Afpak war and get the media to pesent it as a non-escalation or de-escalation.  this is an extremely important public relations problem, estential to the solving of his most important political problem, winning the next election.  We therefore have to be patient until his advisors contrive an Explanation for his action.  I’m sure it will be wonderful.

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By Counselor1, November 12, 2009 at 6:40 am Link to this comment

How about obeying our own Constitution? And taking our own deficit talk seriously? Obama should go to the Congress and ask for a declaration of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and votes for a draft and the taxes to pay for it! No division of the questions (“Yes” to war; “No,” to draft and/or taxes) should be accepted by him. If no taxes are raised, he should begin rapid withdrawal.

My fervent hope, of course, is that the Congress of Cowards would not vote for these things.

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By C.Curtis.Dillon, November 12, 2009 at 5:40 am Link to this comment

Thank God ... finally a voice of reason and caution arises.  I can just imagine the pandemonium at the Pentagon when these memos surfaced.  I just hope Obama finally finds the balls to make the right decision.  This guy deserves the Nobel Peace Prize ... I wonder if they can change the decision at this late date?

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By Scott, November 12, 2009 at 5:35 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Unless we develop a comprehensive South Asia
strategy, the most we can hope for is a temporary
peace in Afghanistan.

What would such a strategy look like? Well, at the
very least it requires some moderation of the
strategic competition between India and Pakistan.
Without attention to this aspect of the problem, we
really are only playing around at the edges of the
conflict.

For more, there’s a good piece here:
http://bit.ly/3vYHPk

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By CaptainAldo, November 11, 2009 at 10:50 pm Link to this comment

The war is absolute folly. Sponsored by the military industrial complex to further exploit the American people who do not want war but are powerless because their representatives (except a few) have betrayed them.

The empire is falling and that is good news.

Captain Aldo.  TheLuminousCompass.com

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By TJ, November 11, 2009 at 5:55 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The Republicans and those who are calling for an immediate escalation
of armed combat forces in Afghanistan are naive in understanding the
accumulation and use of power.

The threat of exercising power can be as powerful as actually
exercising it.  This is a lesson the Bush administration and Hawks have
never understood. 

Once power has been exercised, that’s it; the maximum benefit has
been obtained, and the benefit dissipates. Your opponent can then take
your actual measure, and plan around your strength.  You must then
start again with increase in commitment of force to regain that
strength.  (That is unless you’re in a position of total conquest, which
hasn’t been possible since the days of the conquistadores for
humanitarian reasons.)

I say, let President Obama study the question of commitment of
additional military forces to Afghanistan far into the future.  The best military state possible is a stalemate leading up to a negotiated settlement with the Taliban which includes a Taliban commitment to oppose al qaeda and terrorist use of Afghanistan as a haven.  What additional vital interest could the US possibly have in Afghanistan?

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