Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Hammes on Afghanistan: Maybe Joe Biden was Right

A key exchange that probably passed most people by on All Things Considered today:

Well, Colonel Hammes, if the fixed number here is the timeframe as opposed to the strategy, is there something the U.S. could achieve effectively in Afghanistan with a different strategy, as you see it, that could be consistent with starting to draw down forces a year from July?

HAMMES: Yes, because it is a very long process and a very expensive one.
So if we take the 10 years, let's say we're wildly optimistic and we can make this work in only 10 years, that will cost us about a trillion dollars and about 3,000 lives. And if we're very, very good and we get a superb Afghan government and the economy doubles in those 10 years, the best we can do is a country that is poorer than today's Chad. So from a strategic point of view, investing those kind of resources to create another Chad just doesn't seem to make sense to me.

Few have more expertise on this subject than retired U.S. Marine Col T.X. Hammes, and what he recommends sounds alot like what Vice President Biden was recommending during the policy review last year, namely, a much smaller force with a mission to maintain intelligence links and continue to target Al Qaeda and their affiliates through direct action raids and air strikes. This is not a great strategy, but it sure is better than the alternative: open-ended commitment to pour our blood and treasure down the endless chasm in the graveyard of empires. Isn't that why many of us voted for President Obama, so he would keep us out of quixotic campaigns with no end in sight? >

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