Episode 60 – War! What is it good for? Afghan Troop Surge Examined

The great Bruce Springsteen song comes to mind in thinking about this week’s episode. Glenn and Jeff tell you the things you need to know about the President’s speech on the Afghanistan troop surge but didn’t hear from him or some of the other political pundits. While the President was clear about his goals and objectives, are we missing the point? Is the premise flawed, the objectives off-base and the effort too costly during these difficult economic times? What would Senator Obama think about what President Obama is doing? You need to come to your own conclusion about the war in Afghanistan, and the PoliTalk guys give you the information you need in an engaging and informative way. It’s PoliTalk, your weekly political podcast.

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2 responses to “Episode 60 – War! What is it good for? Afghan Troop Surge Examined

  1. I wrote a blog about this as well… I’m not sure if sending 30,000 more troops is the best plan. Though Obama has outlined a specific date for exit, I still feel like we shouldn’t risk sending more people over there for a war that was bogus in the first place.


  2. I think Obama is right in characterizing this is a just war, one that was considerably fumbled, but just by all criteria.

    People executed a number of attacks on the United States, killed a significant number of people, and by all known facts it seems that the Taliban leadership were complicit to the extent they were sheltering the responsible leadership, Al Qaeda.

    There doesn’t seem to be any dispute over this, although it seems that certain circles appear to characterize the Afghan war in the same vein as the Iraq one (kind of an inverse of the prior administration in trying to tie 9/11 to Saddam).

    Personally I think Obama should have sent more troops. I am of mixed feeling on the deadline – probably good to give a heads up to the current Afghan regime that they don’t have a blank check and need to get into gear soon, but not sure about the length of time, or potential encouragement to the Taliban.

    Otherwise, most wars are not cheap. If one feels this is a just war, and that a power vacuum would be a bad outcome to risk, then we should invest and make the effort to win.

    At a minimum this means really investing in:
    – Infrastructure to mop up excess labor and exert an immediate impact on living standards (roads, irrigation, sewers, school buildings, even electricity, in that order)
    – Reasonably competent Afghan Army which eventually have to reach 200,000
    – Self defense forces and militias, possibly reaching half a million or more (like in Viet nam around 1970-71)
    – An opium fund to buy off cultivators, cut into the enemy’s cash flow, win friends, influence local power structures, and subsidize our pharma industry- Jeff, I know I harp on this but probably playing to the Afghan’s strengths would help here

    I think even a remote threat of the Taliban returning to power needs to be considered seriously, particularly with respect to resuming the Al Qaeda relationship, providing propaganda fodder to extremists, providing a base for further attacking Pakistan (out of hubris or desire for revenge), prospects of oppression and revenge taken against the civilian population.

    Otherwise, don’t want to sound pedantic, but the song was first really popularized by the Temptations, not the Boss.

    Happy holidays

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