Victory Betrayed

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Gen. Petraeus on Sunday sought to change that way of thinking, to reassure the Afghan people (and the government) that we would not abandon them.

“Finally, to the people of Afghanistan: it is a great honor to be in your country and to lead ISAF (the International Security Assistance Force),” he said. “I want to emphasize what a number of our country’s leaders recently affirmed – that our commitment to Afghanistan is an enduring one and that we are committed to a sustained effort to help the people of this country over the long-term. Neither you nor the insurgents nor our partners in the region should doubt that.”

It is remarkable that the general in charge of winning a war has to reassure America’s partners, potential partners and enemies that we won’t pick up and leave before we’ve won. That is usually the job of the president. But this president refuses to clearly and unequivocally make that statement. Instead, he uses vague terms like “success,” and speaks repeatedly of the day, only a year away, when American forces will begin to withdraw.

If Gen. Petraeus can achieve a “win” in Afghanistan, whatever that might look like, it will be in spite of, not because of, his commander in chief. The president’s rhetorical hedge against shooting for victory has made Petraeus’ job harder. We should all hope that Petraeus’ considerable diplomatic skills are enough to overcome that disadvantage.

Andrew Cline is editorial page editor of the New Hampshire Union Leader.

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  • Micha

    Those are not U.S. troops in the photo……….

    • Hooah

      Yes your right. I'm thinking they may be British. The uniforms and weapons are not U.S. issue.

      • xman

        They are British. They're carrying standard British infantry weapons.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/WilliamJWard WilliamJamesWard

    Barak Hussein has no intention of moving American forces into a victory over
    Talaban forces in Afghanistan but he can not just cut and run. He is working us
    back to a position that existed before the Taliban were booted out, this means
    mass executions of all Afghanistans that did or looked like they were against
    the Taliban and Jihadist murder. As American forces fly out the ground below
    will turn red………no skin off a Democrats back as in Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand
    etc……………………………………………William

    • joereinhart

      And the blood sure flowed in those places. The liberals patted each-other on the back, ”Flower-power works!" and Jane Fonda was lauded.
      And millions of little brown people with unpronounceable names died died died.
      But the liberal aging hippies still call that their finest hour.

  • jacob

    I dare state that if the Allies would have fought WWII with the same stupid rules enacted by sophists that were never shot at, let alone near a battlefield, we would to this day, still be fighting Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan…

    And that is why we will never reach the goal of our Afghan campaign…

    Which brings me to ask General Petreus about his statement that ISRAEL is the reason for American soldiers being killed…

    Would he mind telling us when did an American soldier shed a drop of sweat, let alone of blood, for ISRAEL ??

    • xman

      We wouldn't stiill be fighting them. We'd have lost way back in 1942.

    • joereinhart

      It was a stupid thing to say, wasn't it. Israel should be given every once of support we can give them; cut their political chain and they will march all the way to Taiwan.

      • Jim C.

        Do you want to give Israel support? or do you want to cut their political chain?

        I realize it's "naive," but I'd like to see an end to our biggest foreign aid clients. We are paying people not to fight each other while simultaneously spending trillions trying to police the world.

  • William Smart

    Unless the US is prepared to kill 6 million Afghans it might as well get out. Afghans have had their fill of westerners for 9 years now, and they hate us. They have no more confidence in our tactics than we do – we've delivered nothing but killings.

    • rangerdgd

      Then maybe after we're gone, they can get their fill of Islamic slavery,oppression,and poverty once again,and half the population can happily go back inside their homes,and STAY there..FOREVER

      • jackflash

        On a personal note, I don't see any problem with killing 6 million jihadistic murdering homicidal fundamentalist Islamics. It will be doing the entire world and humanity in general a favor.
        Name one reason, Willy Smarty, just one reason; why should they live? Give just one unique irreplaceble quality that they, and only they, bring to this wonderful panapoly of earthly life?

        Just as I suspected. No reply.

        • Jim C.

          It is true there is no "victory" without wholsesale slaughter.

          It is also true that wholesale slaughter would be completely evil, immoral and unethical, and immediately put the United States on par with wonderful regimes like the Third Reich, Stalin, and Pol Pot. That's what you want for your country?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/WilliamJWard WilliamJamesWard

    Exactly Robert, the slime pond has many rats floating in it who would kill every one
    of us if they could. Someday we will have leadership that will recognize and deal
    with the problem, that is if in November the American voters get rid of the cankerous
    Congress and vote in Conservatives……………….Regards,……………William

  • Bobbie

    In order to win both Obama and Karzai should go! Hopefully when we elect a new president in 2012….. So, hopefully that pink lip clown is not going to get us all killed, etc.

  • ObamaYoMoma

    First of all, before you get too far into your article, you should at least explain why it is important that we win this unwinnable war in Afghanistan and how we can do it. I mean most of the people in Afghanistan are living in abject poverty. Besides being desperately poor, most of the people are also illiterate and unskilled. Not to mention that besides there being no roads and electricity, most of the fields have to be plowed using pack animals. Furthermore, correct me if I’m wrong, but there weren’t any Afghanis that participated in the 9/11 terrorist attacks either.

    Hence, could you please explain to me how such a backwards and primitive country like Afghanistan can somehow represent such a grave and perilous threat to a superpower like the USA that it would dedicate nine years, billions of dollars, and the blood, sweat, and tears of our troops for so damn long?

    As a matter of fact, is pursuing a silly nation-building mission in Afghanistan with no hope of success because it is based on silly and asinine fantasy based assumptions more important than stopping the Iranians from acquiring nuclear weapons? Furthermore, how is winning this unwinnable war in Afghanistan going to stop the rapid Islamization of Europe? Why is it more important that we pursue this ludicrous war in Afghanistan instead of confiscating and destroying the nuclear weapons of Pakistan?

    Indeed, why and how could you arbitrarily assume that all people on the right agree with this ludicrous war in Afghanistan? The reality is we don’t and we are more than a little fed up with the current incarnation of the Republican Party as they have all lost their respective minds.

    With respect to Obama, as for as I’m concerned he is grossly incompetent, but nevertheless it is a bit naïve to believe that everyone on the right supports this hopeless nation-building mission in Afghanistan. Believe me we don't!

    • jackflash

      ObamayoMama in summary; (what Obama yo Mamma is saying in a nutshell)

      "De be po, De be backwards. I be a RINO an I wants dat givermint money spent on me and my dumb brats. I don't see Afghanistan from my window, so they should die. An by da way, everyone else agrees wit me!"

      • ObamaYoMoma

        I hate to rain on your glorious parade, but I be a mainstream conservative. However, unlike you liberal collectivist neo-cons that hijacked the Republican Party and utterly destroyed its credibility and reputation for fiscal conservatism, smaller and less government, and sane foreign policy, I wasn’t blinded by political correct multiculturalism. Hence, unlike you and a whole host of neo-cons, which literally left the Republican Party a train wreck, I don’t blindly follow lock step the debacle of the Bush/Cheney dictates. Hell, I didn’t even vote for that RINO Juan McPain in 08 because he was like you too liberal. Indeed, I held my nose and didn’t vote at all out of protest. Sue me. I won’t again unless I find a candidate that at least understands the global jihad. I’m tired of voting for losers who like you are blinded by political correct multiculturalism.

        • Rose Fell

          I'm curious what 'neo-cons' means. Rush Limbaugh says that it is a pejorative term for "Jews". Another definition I've seen is people who were liberals, but became conservatives.
          I can understand why we went into Afghanistan. I can understand why we went into Iraq. The problem though is when you into a war in these places, it isn't easy to get out and declare victory. Even Iraq, which currently looks like a victory, could look very different after we leave and the various murder-minded types get into action again. And Islam is a factor here too – when you invade a country that has a religion that teaches Jihad against the infidels, its harder to win over a population that is immersed in that religion. Even countries that temporarily were pro-Western (like Turkey) now join the other side, because of Islam.

          • Jim C.

            "Neoconservative" has been misused as a "catch-all," but the neoconservatives are a self-named, well-documented group of people who essentially believe American military power should be used to "reform" the Middle East into secular, democratic societies. Their influence peaked during the Bush Administration whenre many of them were the architects and administrators of his foriegn policy.

            During his second term, Mr. Bush wised up to the utter nonsense of the neoconservative vision and phased them out of his administration.

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/onfollowingchrist Paul B.

    From the day after his announcement of his 2011 withdrawal scheme, Obama's surrogates, beginning with H. Clinton, were telling the press that our president, master of articulation that he is, did not mean what he said. Up to the appointment of Petraeus, I doubt anyone on earth knew what our Afghan policy really was. While obfuscation can be a tactic, I doubt that's what was going on. This may well be changing with Petraeus' appointment, though. Obama finds himself in a place where it is politically expedient to win, and I doubt Petraeus would have signed on without the understood goal of winning.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/ObamaYoMoma ObamaYoMoma

    Great analogy, but there is only one minor thing wrong with it, we can’t win in Afghanistan, not with McChrystal and not with Petraeus, and therefore we should cut our losses and get out as fast as possible. That’s four nation building missions now in a row, Somalia, the Balkans, Iraq, and Afghanistan, that all turned into unmitigated disasters and where we spent trillions of dollars without anything to show for it. We should abandon nation-building missions once and for all in favor of eliminating our enemies and leaving behind our death and destruction to serve as long lasting deterrent. Anyway, it is far more prudent to concentrate on stopping the Iranians from acquiring nukes than it is too spin our wheels any longer in Afghanistan.

    "Up to the appointment of Petraeus, I doubt anyone on earth knew what our Afghan policy really was."

    Up until the appointment of Petraeus, we put winning friends and influencing people first and foremost. It was the Dale Carnegie strategy of COIN and it came at the expense of our troops lives via overly restrictive rules of engagement. Unfortunately, that strategy remains the same today. You see General Petraeus wrote the book on it.

    Good luck trying to win the hearts and minds of Muslims who are obligated to hate our guts, per their religion, no matter what. If after nine years we royally failed to win hearts and minds, I highly doubt we will be any more successful in the upcoming months.

  • HKM

    You can`t defeat the will of an entire people. They hate us and they will continue to do so. The Afghan people wish our soldiers killed and will actively work for thet goal or silently support it.

    I spoke to an Afghan former tribal leader, who left the country a few years ago. He had a lot of respect for the russians because they were totally ruthless. If they saw a tree they would bomb the place because they thought people would be living there. They would bomb and machine gun entire villages, killing everyone. They would kill all the livestock, poison the wells and lay out boobytraps. In his mind, because ISAF lacks this ruthlessness, they must be weak. The Russians were very strong. ISAF, not so much, he said.

    And indeed it is a grain of truth in this: We either need to withdraw or be prepared for mass murder. Genghis Khan is really the only invader with any success in Afghanistan. There is a reason why.

    • Jim C.

      The Russians were "strong" (i.e. murderously immoral) and still failed utterly. Should tell us something.

  • WAYNE

    OBAMA HAS NO INTENTION OF WINNING IN AFGHANISTAN. HE IS SETTING UP GENERAL PETRAEUS TO BE THE FALL GUY AND TAKE THE BLAME AWAY FROM HIM

    • Jim C.

      There is no "winning" short of wholesale slaughter. To talk of "winning" in Afghanistan is to admit to being a fool.

  • Beverley

    Obama wants to be all things to all people. He wants to be a little bit christian and a little bit Muslim, just like he is a little bit white and a little bit black.

  • Jim C.

    The Authorization of the Use of Military Force seemed like a good idea at the time, when we knew fck-all about the region and about who we were fighting.

    Now we are wising up to the fact that it was a poor substitute for a declaration of war, since a declaration of war has clear objectives and goals. Just as liberals used Bush's nebulous, ill-conceived plans in Iraq and Afghanistan against him politically, now conservatives are attempting to back out of this nonsense by using it against Obama.

    When are we going to wise up to the fact that we don't need to police the world? That our economy is in the toilet because of it, and that other countries are more successful than we are because they don't have to spend money on their own military?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/AL__ AL__
  • sovereignjim

    Would someone define what victory/winning in Afghanistan is.