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Waiting for Obama to decide on Afghanistan

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By Henry Hilton

The entire international community is anxiously waiting for U.S. President Barack Obama to make his much delayed decision on expanding U.S. troop numbers in Afghanistan.

Now that a "victorious" President Hamid Karzai is set to run his country for a further five years, all the United States' allies, including Japan, need to know what the White House intends to do over Afghanistan.

No boosting of U.S. and NATO military strength is likely, though, to do much to correct the realities on the ground. Afghanistan remains a desperately poor, corrupt and weak entity run by a series of warlords and the Taliban are not going to give up without an almighty protracted struggle.

The Obama administration is saddled with a war it is unlikely to win, while championing a government in Kabul that takes the biscuit for misbehavior. Even U.S. spokesmen are now admitting that President Karzai is on probation with just six months to demonstrate that he is serious about undertaking a comprehensive reform program.

Yet even starting up any such venture would require major shifts in policy, given that the president's half-brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, is top of the American nasty list as a suspected drug operator. It is widely held that he is in charge of Afghanistan's lucrative heroin trade, though President Karzai insists that any such claims remain unsubstantiated. The fact that it is proving difficult to persuade the president to remove the man running southern Afghanistan underlines the difficulties the United States faces in cleaning up a state where corruption is so deeply embedded in the political and social environments.

All the allies of the United States will take their cue from Obama's much delayed decision to review the requests from Gen Stanley McChrystal for major troop reinforcements. For its part, the new Japanese coalition under Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama appears to be about to offer civilian assistance for Kabul, though its Maritime Self-Defense vessels will soon be returning from back-up duties off the Horn of Africa and the Indian Ocean.

Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who is facing more strident criticism as casualties continue to mount, has made it clear that it is most unlikely that British troops would remain in Afghanistan if Washington were at some future date to begin a withdrawal.

Getting out, though, is not on the cards for now. Neither the United States nor NATO is about to pack it in, although fresh casualties and a general public unwillingness to believe that their security at home rests on what happens in the foothills of Southwest Asia will almost certainly make a coherent defense of Allied policies in Afghanistan increasingly difficult.

Obama has probably between 12 to 18 months on demonstrate that his generals have sufficient counter-insurgency measures in place in order to announce that an independent, less corrupt and more open Afghanistan can now take care of itself. If not, the American electorate may decide the fate of his government and its policies. The clock is ticking and the omens for the Obama administration are deteriorating.

© Japan Today

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

8 Comments
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I say start building the pipeline now unless you want to ram this pipeline thru Iran. The possibility that a conquered Iran is more stable than Afghanistan can ever be.

Many of these Afghan warlord types will need to be expunged however. It seems the rich people (fed owners) are a little upset that this is taking so long and are getting impatient. But Iran is a suitable target also and they have oil also. Why not just take the whole region (Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan)?

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there's only one choice: pull out

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@stirfry

I've been advocating this from just about the beginning. This troubled nation/region doesn't genuinely want to resolve itself and the corrupt government will squeeze the Allied nations for as much aid and funding as possible.

Just leave already. America has it's own share of problems it needs to resolve first and Japan may have even more on it's own plate. Anyone thinking the 1-in-6 households live in poverty?

But then, everyone is really there for "other" reasons:p

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I've been advocating this from just about the beginning. This troubled nation/region doesn't genuinely want to resolve itself and the corrupt government will squeeze the Allied nations for as much aid and funding as possible.

Just leave already. America has it's own share of problems it needs to resolve first and Japan may have even more on it's own plate. Anyone thinking the 1-in-6 households live in poverty?

But then, everyone is really there for "other" reasons:p

Sounds like you are confusing Afghanistan and Iraq. Terrorism is why we are there are thats one of the major problems America must continue to address. Youre oil implication is more appropriate if discussing Iraq

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"There's only one choice: pull out"

"Just leave already"

Yes, we must pull out/leave already, and bend over and grab the ankles, lol.

If I was a U.S. or NATO serviceman or servicewoman in Afghanistan, I'd be seriously pissed off at Obama's dithering.

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"Sarge"-

If I was a U.S. or NATO serviceman or servicewoman in Afghanistan, I'd be seriously pissed off at Obama's dithering.

But you're not a U.S. or NATO serviceman or servicewoman; WE are, and we fully appreciate President Obama for not rushing into a decision the way his disgraceful predecessor did.

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I just want our troops to come home. I have many friends who went to the service after high school. I think Obama is an idiot for taking too long.Honestly he hasn't done anything for anybody but made them mad.I truly think he should be impeached.

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"USAFdude" - "we fully appreciate President Obama for not rushing into a decision"

But your fellow servicemembers in Afghanistan do not appreciate Obama's dithering.

thethud - "Obama is an idiot for taking too long. Honestly he hasn't done anything for anybody but made them mad. I truly think he would be impeached"

Heh.

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