(HOST) Commentator Bill Seamans reminds us of a deadline that is rapidly approaching – one that is almost certain to rekindle debate on the Afghan war.
(SEAMANS) Another controversy could ignite next month when President Obama presents his Afghanistan War policy review which he promised last December to assess the effect of the 30,000 more troops he approved as requested by Gen. David Petraeus. Since then, the opinions of critics, military experts and those with a vested political interest are, to say the least, ambiguous. Is Gen. Petraeus’s campaign strategy succeeding or failing?
A Washington Post editorial said that Petraeus’s campaign has failed to inflict more than fleeting setbacks on the insurgency or put meaningful pressure on its leaders to seek peace – this according to U.S. military and intelligence sources citing the latest assessments of the war in Afghanistan. Then the next day a Post editorial said that there were what it called "small signs of progress" against the Taliban around its strategic stronghold city of Kandahar. No wonder we the people feel confused about the war.
Gen. Petraeus indicated that he expected Obama’s December review will show meaningful progress noting that his Special Forces have killed or captured almost 300 Taliban field commanders in the past three months. But critics say they are being quickly replaced by younger even more aggressive terrorist leaders canceling out the momentum claimed by Petraeus.
Then leaking out of the fog is the inevitable speculation by those opposed to virtually everything Obama does – they say that his reevaluation report next month will force a showdown with Petraeus over the strategy for continuing the war – should we get out or continue on? Part of this hypothesis is based on the calendar coincidence that several top generals and admirals will retire over the next few months and Defense Secretary Gates will check out next year. A New York Times military expert speculates that this window could give Obama the opening to chose replacements who could, as the Times said, "strengthen his hand over a military with which he has often clashed."
Beyond the Washington rhetoric of ambiguity, the continuing daily loss of our precious youth raises my main concern over whether we are in danger of creating a de facto policy of perpetual war. Are we getting used to war as something normal – a condition for which we no longer use the word "victory" but instead use the word "momentum" to describe military actions whether they are succeeding or failing. Will President Obama’s report next month continue to support Gen. Petraeus’s long range strategy or will he call for withdrawal before it’s too late? Will we the people finally start paying attention to the war?