Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Surge to require troops out of Afghanistan

No one except Bush believes that a "surge" in Iraq will significantly change anything (see article in Kevin Drum), but Bush needs to take aggressive action that will last the next two years so that he can claim that he didn't lose Iraq. He will leave that honor to his successor. So the conclusion is that tomorrow that he will announce an influx of troops into Iraq.

But where are they coming from? Well, in spite of the increase in Taliban activity in Afghanistan recently, at least one battalion of infantry is being pulled out of a critical area in Afghanistan. This from the Baltimore Sun:
As a last-ditch effort, President Bush is expected to announce this week the dispatch of thousands of additional troops to Iraq as a stopgap measure, an order that Pentagon officials say would strain the Army and Marine Corps as they struggle to man both wars.

Already, a U.S. Army infantry battalion fighting in a critical area of eastern Afghanistan is due to be withdrawn within weeks in order to deploy to Iraq.

According to Army Brig. Gen. Anthony J. Tata and other senior U.S. commanders here, that will happen just as the Taliban is expected to unleash a major campaign to cut the vital road between Kabul and Kandahar. The official said the Taliban intend to seize Kandahar, Afghanistan's second-largest city and the place where the group was organized in the 1990s.

"We anticipate significant events there next spring," said Tata.

At stake, in both Iraq and Afghanistan, is the key U.S. strategic imperative of preventing al-Qaida and Taliban forces from establishing terrorist sanctuaries, as Afghanistan was in the late 1990s, when al-Qaida launched operations to bomb U.S. embassies and warships and eventually hatched the Sept. 11 plot.

"This could be a pivotal year" for U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, Gen. James T. Conway, commandant of the Marine Corps, said in an interview after a recent series of briefings here. "I don't think they see that they are near defeat or anything. I just think they sense they are vulnerable to inroads being made" against what had been a relatively stable country.
OK, then. This is a pivotal year (according to the Commandant.) So what is the American strategy? We've got to make Bush look like he hasn't lost the war he started for no good reason, and we have to keep spending money and lives for two more years so that Bush and the conservatives can claim the next President "lost" Iraq.

Afghanistan? Not in the news, not important to Bush's ego.

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