Losing The Other War

by Tom Bozzo

Not that I want to reinforce our doom-and-gloom reputation or anything, but the Bush administration is demonstrating its inability to walk and chew gum at the same time by losing in Afghanistan:

A recent Pentagon report about Afghanistan painted a stark picture of security conditions inside the country, a militant force that had “coalesced into a resilient insurgency” and a central government in Kabul that still could not extend its reach into the hinterlands. An American commander, Maj. Gen. Jeffrey J. Schloesser, has said that militant attacks on coalition troops increased by 40 percent from January to May compared with the same period last year.

The reason is that for the small fortune that’s been appropriated for that war, there aren’t enough resources there to keep the Taliban at bay:

General McNeill said the Afghanistan mission “needs more maneuver units, it needs more flying machines, it needs more intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance units.”

The problem, as any student of the place would know, is that Afghanistan is the asymmetric warrior’s paradise, with a long history prior to the Soviet invasion of chewing up notionally superior forces. Incidentally, this is part of the reason why the partisan in me would be almost as happy to see Condoleezza Rice as McCain’s running mate as I would Mittens. Not only would I make a sizeable donation to anyone willing to run an ad featuring her recounting the title of the “Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States” memo, but also she must be either totally ineffectual and unprincipled [*] or the worst Sovietologist ever [**] not to have tried convincing the other Bushies to really win in Afghanistan first or to resign having tried but failed.

Comparing the candidates, Obama’s Iraq page notes the rivalry for resources, and the plan (pdf) calls for shifting some U.S. military resources freed from Iraq to Afghanistan; McCain keeps Afghanistan off his Iraq page and seems to promote the blunter and more expensive instrument of a larger standing military as the answer to resource limitations in fighting the GSAVE.

[*] The unprincipled part is is pretty much a given.

[**] Before you start debating me on worse Sovietologists, please note the “worst X ever” formulation.