George Will Calls for U.S. Troop Pullout in Afghanistan

By: E&P Staff George Will, the longtime syndicated columnist and TV pundit, has rarely been accused of being a "dove" but in a new column published Tuesday he calls for a U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. Will would have any U.S. attacks come from off shore and via drones and other methods that don't involve U.S. ground troops.

An excerpt follows.
U.S. strategy ? protecting the population ? is increasingly troop-intensive while Americans are increasingly impatient about ?deteriorating? (says Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) conditions. The war already is nearly 50 percent longer than the combined U.S. involvements in two world wars, and NATO assistance is reluctant and often risible.

U.S. strategy is ?clear, hold and build.? Clear? Taliban forces can evaporate and then return, confident that U.S. forces will forever be too few to hold gains. Hence nation-building would be impossible even if we knew how, and even if Afghanistan were not the second-worst place to try: The Brookings Institution ranks Somalia as the only nation with a weaker state.

Military historian Max Hastings says Kabul controls only about a third of the country ? ?control? is an elastic concept ? and ? ?our? Afghans may prove no more viable than were ?our? Vietnamese, the Saigon regime.?....

U.S. forces are being increased by 21,000 to 68,000, bringing the coalition total to 110,000. About 9,000 are from Britain, where support for the war is waning. Counterinsurgency theory concerning the time and the ratio of forces required to protect the population indicates that, nationwide, Afghanistan would need hundreds of thousands of coalition troops, perhaps for a decade or more. That is inconceivable.

So, instead, forces should be substantially reduced to serve a comprehensively revised policy: America should do only what can be done from offshore, using intelligence, drones, cruise missiles, airstrikes and small, potent special forces units, concentrating on the porous 1,500-mile border with Pakistan, a nation that actually matters.

Genius, said de Gaulle, recalling Bismarck?s decision to halt German forces short of Paris in 1870, sometimes consists of knowing when to stop. Genius is not required to recognize that in Afghanistan, when means now, before more American valor, such as Allen?s, is squandered.


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here