P.T. Barnum said there’s a sucker born every minute. He proved it by putting a sign up at his carnival that said “See the Great Egress” and then took money from people as they exited (egressed) from his show.
Obama is about to give a speech outlining his plan for Afghanistan. He’s giving the speech at the U.S. Military Academy, suggesting that he might be giving General Patraeus most or all of the troops he requested.
But the question is whether or not Obama has any kind of strategy for victory, and a strategy for exiting Afghanistan, or if he views a troop increase as a political delaying action to put off the serious decisions until after elections, or maybe it’s a “tough” approach to take some heat off health care reform until HRC gets through and is signed into law. Even after Obama’s Tuesday speech, we may still not know what’s really going on in his head.
The current approach appears to be heading towards the idea of (1) increasing troops to put pressure on the Taliban. This increased pressure will then (2) nudge Taliban who are not die-hard loyalists to Al-Queda to consider switching sided if we pay them money. If successful, the sudden drop in Taliban can be declared a “victory” at which point the US can “withdraw with honor”, meaning Obama won’t have his own Vietnam hanging around his neck by 2010.
But that’s a bit of American-made nonsense, really. If the Taliban are really fighting for money, then even if we withdraw, we will have to keep paying them money indefinitely, even after we withdraw, lest Afghanistan become a terrorist haven again. And the only people who believe it are people who believe “they hate us for our freedom”.
Most Afghans are fighting American troops for the same reason Afghans fought the Soviets in the 80′s: Because they don’t like foreigners invading and occupying their land.
What may transpire is that we pay off the Taliban to stop fighting us long enough to declare “victory”, then we withdraw most American troops. Once we withdraw our troops, most Afghans will cease to have a reason to join an insurgency, because there won’t be any foreign invaders to fight.
The hawks who think they hate us for our freedom will think they stopped hating us because we beat them until they loved us. But what really happened is we will have paid them to stop fighting us long enough to declare “victory” and once we withdraw, they won’t have any reason to fight us, and we won’t have to keep paying them.
We’ll have to see how the speech goes. And after that, we’ll have to see how reality goes.