Archive for the ‘quagmire’ Category

Afghanistan: A Swamp Filled With Uncertainty

October 14, 2008

By Richard Halloran
The Washington Times

An Afghan boy and girl ride on a donkey carrying water, in Kabul, ...
An Afghan boy and girl ride on a donkey carrying water, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Oct. 12, 2008.(AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

As the United States begins extricating itself from the quagmire in Iraq, it is in jeopardy of plunging into a swamp in Afghanistan that is filled with uncertainty.

Yet neither President George Bush nor the leading candidates to succeed him, Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama, who debated the Afghan issue this week, have so far articulated America’s national interest in that landlocked Central Asian country. The White House, however, began a belated review this week of objectives and strategy in Afghanistan.

Gen. David McKiernan, the new commander of American forces in Afghanistan, sketched out a gloomy picture for the Pentagon press on Oct. 1, saying it would take “four to five years” of intervention before the Afghans could take responsibility for their internal security.

“What I have found after four months in Afghanistan is that the environment there is even more complex than I would have thought,” Gen. McKiernan said. “It’s a country where they have experienced 30 straight years of war that’s left a traumatized society and a traumatized tribal system.”

Other soldiers experienced in Afghanistan have been even more pessimistic. Brig. Mark Carleton-Smith, Britain’s senior commander in Afghanistan, was quoted: “We’re not going to win this war. It’s about reducing it to a manageable level of insurgency that’s not a strategic threat and can be managed by the Afghan army.”

Brig. Carleton-Smith, who has just finished a second tour in Afghanistan, told the Sunday Times: “We want to change the nature of the debate from one where disputes are settled through the barrel of the gun to one where it is done through negotiations.” Evidently, negotiations would include moderate members of the revived Taliban insurgents.

A U.S. Army colonel who led a task force in Afghanistan, Christopher Kolenda, writing in the Weekly Standard asked: “How is it that we find ourselves unable to dispatch the Taliban seven years after their downfall? Winning in Afghanistan requires….

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Five years in Iraq: a deep disquiet in the US

March 20, 2008
By Peter Grier 

Washington – The Iraq war has been perhaps America’s bitterest lesson since Vietnam in the realities of war and geopolitics – profoundly altering ordinary citizens’ sense of their country, its essential abilities, and the overall role it plays in the world.
US soldiers take up positions to provide cover for fellow soldiers ... 
U.S. soldiers in Iraq. Photo by: (AFP/File/David Furst)

Poll after poll shows that Americans are worried about US troops. They’re distressed at the war’s rising human and financial cost and are fully aware of the globe’s rising tide of anti-Americanism. Most of all, they may be confused – unsure of how the United States got here, uncertain about what to do next, and in doubt about how, and when, the conflict will end.

“It’s just become a mess, and I don’t think there’s an easy end to it, so we’re going to end up in a quagmire,” says Ben Lem, a Boston-area cafe owner.

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