Afghanistan is “under-resourced”

8 Feb ’08

When the Manley Report on Afghanistan was released I was flabbergasted that it suggested that 1,000 troops could make a difference to, well, anything. It was a policy without a principle. And that suggestion seemed to me a completely dishonest or ill-informed representation of the mission. More from Fred Kaplan on the misconception of the mission, and a quote that demonstrates the scale of the fallacy:

Gen. Dan K. McNeill, commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, said at a Pentagon briefing Wednesday that the military mission is “under-resourced.” However, he also said that a counterinsurgency campaign, along the lines of U.S. doctrine, would require more than 400,000 NATO and Afghan troops. NATO troops currently total about 40,000 (including those that won’t fight). The Afghan national army has roughly another 60,000, of mixed effectiveness.

Meanwhile, the Tory strategy is extortion: putting a gun in our mouths and threatening an election unless we make a “simple decision”. The Government is framing this as a confidence motion for a very simple reason: it doesn’t have the moral courage to debate the issue on its merits – all it has left is the threat of an unwelcome election. Loan’s comment – “Either you support the military mission in Afghanistan or you don’t” – is perhaps the single stupidest utterance I’ve heard from a Canadian politican on Afghanistan, exactly the kind of Rumsfeldian bloviation that entrenched the US in a closed-minded, virtually endless cycle of poor policy, strategy and tactics in Iraq, and couched in exactly the kind of schoolyard-bullying language that betrays the essential moral cowardice of the policy.

Pearson’s tears – we need and deserve far, far better than this.

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