Barack Obama announced on Tuesday his decision to send 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan in the early days of 2011 in an attempt to halt the growing tide of militant violence washing over the country.
His decision came after months of debate over whether the United States should pursue a surge strategy akin to the one that his been overwhelmingly successful in Iraq or whether it should pursue a counter-insurgency strategy that would maintain and reduce troop numbers, and the surge is the right call.
The Afghanistan situation is bad and is probably going to get worse. Before invading, the United States should have taken lessons from Napoleon and the Soviet Union and avoided large-scale military adventures in “graveyard of empires” altogether, but the time for that discussion has come and gone.
At this point, it seems irrational to even entertain the notion that the United States can decisively win the war.
What it can do, however, is attempt to ensure that Islamic extremists cannot turn their full attention to overthrowing Pakistan’s nuke-holding government and try to buy some time for the Afghanis to get a working government — even if its not of the representative democracy flavor — together.
U.S. troops have been under-supported and outnumbered in Afghanistan in recent years, and the heavy resistance and losses they’ve sustained reflect that reality.
The only way to salvage any semblance of success is to escalate troop numbers, re-evaluate military strategies, learn from past mistakes and figure out how to get the hell out of the country without leaving Afghanistan in shambles.