There can be no doubt that American troops in Afghanistan have become nothing more than political pawns for the Obama administration. Appearing before the House Armed Services Committee yesterday, General John R. Allen, who commands US forces in Afghanistan, made it clear that there will be no increase in the rate of troop drawdown from Afghanistan before the end of the year — a move that even the New York Times identifies as likely being more political than strategic:
The top allied commander in Afghanistan told Congress on Tuesday that he would not be recommending further American troop reductions until late this year, after the departure of the current “surge” forces and the end of the summer fighting season.
That timetable would defer one of the thorniest military decisions facing President Obama — the pace at which the United States removes its forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2014 — until after the November elections.
If strategic reviews were based on changes in operating conditions (remember the old catchphrase “conditions on the ground”?), then the current situation would rightly call for immediate action. However, since the Obama administration senses that any adjustments in the strategy for Afghanistan now would be a tacit admission that the current strategy has flaws, the craven decision is to delay the review until after the November elections have taken place. It appears that the lives of our troops are a lower priority than winning the election.
That no real progress is being made in terms of reducing violence in Afghanistan was made crystal clear by the valiant truth-telling from Lt. Col. Daniel Davis. In addition, despite attempts to retroactively classify a key report on the ongoing cultural clash between US and Afghan forces, fratricide appears to be on a path of increasing frequency, as well.
In a Defense Department release coinciding with Allen’s testimony, we have more denial of the cultural clash:
Recent incidents have been deplorable, but they will not stand in the way of accomplishing goals in Afghanistan, the International Security Assistance Force commander said here.
Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen also said the incidents do not represent the actions of the vast majority of U.S. military personnel who have served in Afghanistan.
Three incidents have been lumped together, the general said: desecration of corpses, the accidental burning of Qurans and the murder of 16 Afghans in Kandahar province. “It’s important to understand that while tragic, these few incidents do not represent who we are,” Allen said during an interview. “The Afghan people know that, the Afghan government knows that, and more importantly, the Afghan national security forces know who we are.”
Allen emphasized that U.S. and Afghan forces have been working together for years, and many Afghans and Americans have close working relationships. Read more