Tuesday, January 22, 2008

We’re Fighting the Wrong War

The Democrats are having the hardest time with the new reality. Every candidate is committed to "ending the war" and bringing our troops back home. The trouble is, the war has largely ended, and precisely because our troops are in the middle of it.

More here.

via Instapundit.


Admiral Burns said...

I am sure you disagree, and I am anxious to read your response to this, but I don't see how we can pull-out now. For one thing, there will be war with Turkey and norther Iraq if we do. I am just disappointed that no one is talking about why we did not stay the course in Afganistan instead of going to war with Iraq.

Mike Stajduhar said...

I suspect the American presence in Iraq will continue for quite some time-regardless of who wins the election. Iraq is just too useful a base in a dangerous part of the world to abandon entirely. We are after all, still in Germany, Japan, and Korea with no pullout date in sight (unless Ron Paul is elected President). It’s true that with the war winding down the military necessity of staying has diminished but the war had other political objectives. The building of Iraqi democracy is well under way but progress is fragile and a continued U.S. presence will help preserve gains just as it did in Europe and Asia after World War II. Also as you point out there are external threats to Iraq-primarily Turkey and Iran. Those threats are unlikely to evaporate in the near future and also serve to justify a continued U.S. presence.

I guess I’d have to dispute your contention that we didn’t “stay the course” in Afghanistan. We are still there last time I checked and routinely cause massively disproportionate casualties on the enemy. I think it’s a mistake to assume that military resources employed in Iraq could have been deployed to Afghanistan with consequently greater effect. Now it’s true that U.S. military resources are finite and at the margins some troops could be shifted from Iraq to Afghanistan (in fact this is happening right now) but the physical geography of a country coupled with it’s infrastructure strongly influence the number of troops that can be usefully deployed in an area. The Soviets ran into this very problem. They had three million men under arms but could never really support more than 80,000 there. Obviously we have considerably fewer than that but we have more firepower (the classic American way of war-it’s expensive but it saves on the casualties) and our logistical requirements are more or less the same. To put it another way, if you have to fly in all your supplies (Afghanistan is landlocked after all) and the airports are having supply flights land around the clock just to support the forces you have in-country…how do add more troops? Build more runways I guess-and there has been quite a bit of that. Still, it’s important to understand that what’s keeping troop levels relatively low is not a lack of troops (Clinton didn’t cut the military THAT much) but a lack of infrastructure. Afghanistan may have been the most backward place in the world BEFORE the Soviet invasion in 1979. Continuous fighting since then has pretty much ruined the few specks of modernity that the country did possess. Iraq by contrast was a relatively modern country with working ports and airports. Naturally this allowed a much larger military commitment.