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UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of ten of America's presidencies and who has edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. We get over 5 million article visits a year. See prorev.com for full contents of our site

January 29, 2010

THE AFGHANISTAN WARNINGS OBAMA IGNORED

Ray McGovern, Information Clearinghouse - Nothing highlights President Barack Obama's abject surrender to Gen. David Petraeus on the "way forward" in Afghanistan more than two cables U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry sent to Washington on Nov. 6 and 9, 2009, the texts of which were released by the New York Times. . .

Ambassador Eikenberry, a retired Army Lt. General who served three years in Afghanistan over the course of two separate tours of duty, was responsible during 2002-2003 for rebuilding Afghan security forces. He then served 18 months (2005-2007) as commander of all U.S. forces stationed in the country.

In the cable he sent to Washington on Nov. 6, Eikenberry explains why, "I cannot support [the Defense Department's] recommendation for an immediate Presidential decision to deploy another 40,000 here." His reasons include:

--Afghan President Hamid Karzai is not "an adequate strategic partner." His government has "little to no political will or capacity to carry out basic tasks of governance. It strains credulity to expect Karzai to change fundamentally this late in his life and in our relationship."

--Karzai and many of his advisers "are only too happy to see us invest further. They assume we covet their territory for a never ending 'war on terror' and for military bases to use against surrounding powers.". . .

--"The proposed troop increase will bring vastly increased costs and an indefinite, large-scale U.S. military role."

--"We overestimate the ability of Afghan security forces to take over by 2013 and underestimate how long it will take to restore or establish civilian government."

--"More troops won't end the insurgency as long as Pakistan sanctuaries remain and Pakistan views its strategic interests as best served by a weak neighbor."

--"There is also the deeper concern about dependency. Rather than reducing Afghan dependence, sending more troops, therefore, is likely to deepen it, at least in the short term. That would further delay our goal of shifting the combat burden to the Afghans."

Eikenberry is even more direct in his cable of Nov. 9, taking strong issue with "a proposed counterinsurgency strategy that relies on a large, all-or-nothing increase in U.S. troops," and warning of the risk that "we will become more deeply engaged here with no way to extricate ourselves."

Condemning Gen. Stanley McChrystal's recommendations with faint praise, Ambassador Eikenberry describes them as "logical and compelling within his [McChrystal's] narrow mandate to define the needs for a military counterinsurgency campaign within Afghanistan."

"Unaddressed variables," says Eikenberry, "include Pakistan sanctuaries, weak Afghan leadership and governance, NATO civilian-military integration, and our national will to bear the human and fiscal costs over many years."

Eikenberry . . . bluntly warns - in vain, it turned out - against a premature decision regarding a troop increase, arguing "there is no option but to widen the scope of our analysis and to consider alternatives beyond a strictly military counterinsurgency effort within Afghanistan."

He adds, "We have not yet conducted a comprehensive, interdisciplinary analysis of all our strategic options. Nor have we brought all the real-world variables to bear in testing the proposed counterinsurgency plan. …

"This strategic re-examination could either include or lead to high-level U.S. talks with the Afghans, the Pakistanis, the Saudis and other important regional players - including possibly Iran."


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