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McChrystal's 40,000 Troop Hoax

It's a time-honored Washington tradition. If you want to bully the government into doing something unpopular and the public into accepting it, manufacture a false emergency. Iraq war? If you don't approve it, mushroom cloud. Banker or IMF bailout? If you don't approve it, financial collapse. Social security privatization? If you don't approve it, the system will go "bankrupt." Our brand is crisis, as James Carville might say.

General McChrystal says that if President Obama does not approve 40,000 more U.S. troops for Afghanistan, and approve them right away, "our mission" - whatever that is - will likely "fail" - whatever that is.

But even if President Obama were to approve General McChrystal's request, the 40,000 troops wouldn't arrive in time to significantly affect the 12-month window McChrystal says will be decisive. So McChrystal's request isn't about what's happening in Afghanistan right now. It's about how many troops the U.S. will have in Afghanistan a year from now and beyond.

There is no emergency requiring a quick decision by President Obama. The current situation in Afghanistan is being used as a bloody shirt to try to lock America into to an endless war, and, as Andrew Bacevich argues in the Boston Globe, lock the Obama Administration into the continuation of military force as the main instrument of U.S. foreign policy.

The Washington Post reports:

In his 66-page assessment of the war, McChrystal warns that the next 12 months will probably determine whether U.S. and international forces can regain the initiative from the Taliban.

JFP News 10/12: U.S. Brokers Iran Nuclear Deal

Just Foreign Policy News
October 12, 2009


Feingold Calls For Flexible Timetable to Draw Down Troops in Afghanistan
Senator Feingold urges an accounting of the cost of sending more troops; argues that more troops could be counterproductive by causing more people to join the insurgency and by destabilizing Pakistan; points out the folly of expending a disproportionate share of U.S. resources on war in Afghanistan, compared to other challenges.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-o90aljNSLw

Obama Begins Meaningful Engagement With Iran
Many were alarmed by the Obama Administration's apparent "saber-rattling" around the revelation of Iran's nuclear enrichment facility at Qom. But more significant than how vigorously the Administration was pounding the table was the fact that it was pounding the table in pursuit of realistic, achievable goals - like the introduction of inspectors at Qom, which Iran had in fact already agreed to - rather than the pie-in-the-sky goal of ending Iranian enrichment of uranium.
http://www.truthout.org/1008097

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JFP News 10/9: Obama Could Face Party Revolt On Afghanistan

Just Foreign Policy News
October 9, 2009


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Nobel Committee, Strategic As Ever, Taps Obama for Peace Prize
Some initial commentary has called the award unprecedented and wondered why the committee would give President Obama the award when he "hasn't done anything yet." But anyone who thinks this award is unprecedented hasn't been paying attention. The Nobel Committee was being strategic, as it has been in the past: praising Obama's moves towards diplomacy as a way of strengthening those moves and beating back his right-wing critics.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/366

Obama Begins Meaningful Engagement With Iran
Many were alarmed by the Obama Administration's apparent "saber-rattling" around the revelation of Iran's nuclear enrichment facility at Qom. But more significant than how vigorously the Administration was pounding the table was the fact that it was pounding the table in pursuit of realistic, achievable goals - like the introduction of inspectors at Qom, which Iran had in fact already agreed to - rather than the pie-in-the-sky goal of ending Iranian enrichment of uranium.
http://www.truthout.org/1008097

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Nobel Committee, Strategic As Ever, Taps Obama for Peace Prize

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize to President Obama.

Some initial commentary has called the award unprecedented and wondered why the committee would give President Obama the award when he "hasn't done anything yet."

But anyone who thinks this award is unprecedented hasn't been paying attention.

The Nobel Committee gave South African Bishop Desmond Tutu the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his leadership of efforts to abolish apartheid in South Africa. Apartheid wasn't fully abolished in South Africa until 1994. The committee could have waited until after apartheid was abolished to say, "Well done!" But the point of the award was to help bring down apartheid by strengthening Bishop Tutu's efforts. In particular, everyone knew that it was going to be much harder for the apartheid regime to crack down on Tutu after the Nobel Committee wrapped him in its protective cloak of world praise.

That's what the Nobel Committee is trying to do for Obama now. It's giving an award to encourage the change in world relations that Obama has promised, and to try to help shield Obama against his domestic adversaries. The committee is well aware that history is contingent and that Obama might fail. It knows very well that the same country that elected Obama also gave the world George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan.

JFP 10/8: Obama - Afghan Taliban Not a Threat, Can Participate in Afghanistan

Just Foreign Policy News
October 8, 2009


Team Obama: Afghan Taliban Not a Threat to U.S.
At long last, the Obama Administration is acknowledging that the Afghan Taliban don't threaten the United States - the first step to rejecting General McChrystal's request for 40,000 more troops. Opposition inside the Administration to sending more troops is apparently being driven by Afghanistan scholar Barnett Rubin - someone who actually knows something about Afghanistan.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/363

BBC World Have Your Say: How many troops are needed in Afghanistan?
Just Foreign Policy joins with Die Linke to make the case against military escalation, talks with the Taliban, and for a timetable for military withdrawal.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/whys/
http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/worldservice/whys/whys_20091007-1928a.mp3

Urge Congress to Support the Lee Bill
Representative Barbara Lee has introduced a bill [H.R. 3699] prohibiting any increase in the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Urge your Member of Congress to support it.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/lee

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Team Obama: Afghan Taliban Not a Threat to U.S.

All hands on deck, Obama Nation. The ship of state is turning.

The New York Times reports:

President Obama's national security team is moving to reframe its war strategy by emphasizing the campaign against Al Qaeda in Pakistan while arguing that the Taliban in Afghanistan do not pose a direct threat to the United States, officials said Wednesday.

This shift means that President Obama will not have to approve General McChrystal's request for 40,000 more troops:

the shift in thinking, outlined by senior administration officials on Wednesday, suggests that the president has been presented with an approach that would not require all of the additional troops that his commanding general in the region has requested.

Finally, the Administration is going to distinguish between the Afghan Taliban, an indigenous Afghan movement with Afghan goals, and Al Qaeda, a global movement with a global agenda of attacking the United States:

"Clearly, Al Qaeda is a threat not only to the U.S. homeland and American interests abroad, but it has a murderous agenda," one senior administration official said in an interview initiated by the White House on Wednesday on the condition of anonymity because the strategy review has not been finished. "We want to destroy its leadership, its infrastructure and its capability."

The official contrasted that with the Afghan Taliban, which the administration has begun to define as an indigenous group that aspires to reclaim territory and rule the country but does not express ambitions of attacking the United States. "When the two are aligned, it's mainly on the tactical front," the official said, noting that Al Qaeda has fewer than 100 fighters in Afghanistan.

The Taliban cannot be removed from Afghanistan, Team Obama says:

JFP News 10/7: JFP on the BBC Against Afghan Escalation

Just Foreign Policy News
October 7, 2009


BBC World Have Your Say: How many troops are needed in Afghanistan?
Just Foreign Policy joins with Die Linke to make the case against military escalation and for a timetable for military withdrawal.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/whys/
http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/worldservice/whys/whys_20091007-1928a.mp3

Urge Congress to Support the Lee Bill
Representative Barbara Lee has introduced a bill [H.R. 3699] prohibiting any increase in the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Urge your Member of Congress to support it.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/lee

Is Team Obama Really Rethinking Afghanistan?
Recent articles in the Wall Street Journal suggest that Obama and his advisers are indeed rethinking key assumptions which have underpinned U.S. policy: in particular, the assumption that al Qaeda would have a "safe haven" in Afghanistan if the Taliban regain control of parts of the country. Two other assumptions that have driven U.S. policy also deserve White House review: the assumption that an al Qaeda safe haven in Afghanistan would significantly increase the terrorist threat to the United States, and the assumption that a Taliban military victory would necessarily follow a U.S. military withdrawal.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/360

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JFP News 10/6: Honduran Security Forces Accused of Abuse

Just Foreign Policy News
October 6, 2009


Is Team Obama Really Rethinking Afghanistan?
Recent articles in the Wall Street Journal suggest that Obama and his advisers are indeed rethinking key assumptions which have underpinned U.S. policy: in particular, the assumption that al Qaeda would have a "safe haven" in Afghanistan if the Taliban regain control of parts of the country. Two other assumptions that have driven U.S. policy also deserve White House review: the assumption that an al Qaeda safe haven in Afghanistan would significantly increase the terrorist threat to the United States, and the assumption that a Taliban military victory would necessarily follow a U.S. military withdrawal.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/360

Peace Action West: Online Vigil at the White House
Peace Action West is organizing an "online vigil" through Wednesday on the White House's Facebook page.
http://peaceactionwest.org/fb/action.html

Attend a Screening of Robert Greenwald's "Rethink Afghanistan"
Find a screening or host one.
http://rethinkafghanistan.com/screenings/

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Is Team Obama Really Rethinking Afghanistan?

Some speculation in the press has suggested that the current White House deliberations on General McChrystal's request for 40,000 more troops in Afghanistan might be largely a political tactic. One theory has suggested that President Obama is running the clock, delaying his decision so he won't have to cross Democrats in Congress while health care reform is hanging fire. Another suggests that the deliberation is for show, so that Democrats will believe that Obama didn't rush to judgment, only reluctantly accepting McChrystal's request after serious deliberation and evaluation.

But two recent articles in the Wall Street Journal suggest that Obama and his advisers are indeed rethinking key assumptions which have underpinned U.S. policy.

On October 5, the Journal reported that President Obama had pressed military commanders over whether "the Taliban still has close ties to al Qaeda and whether the international terrorist group would continue to have a haven should the Taliban regain control of parts of the country."

On October 6, the Journal reported that "intelligence and military officials say they've severely constrained al Qaeda's ability to operate there and in Pakistan - and that's reshaping the debate over U.S. strategy in the region." Some officials, including aides to U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke, have argued that "the Taliban wouldn't allow al Qaeda to regain its footing inside Afghanistan, since it was the alliance between the two that cost the Taliban their control of the country after Sept. 11."

JFP News 10/5: House Liberals Seek to Bar Troop Increase in Afghanistan

Just Foreign Policy News
October 5, 2009


Attend a Screening of Robert Greenwald's "Rethink Afghanistan"
Find a screening near you or host one yourself.
http://rethinkafghanistan.com/screenings/

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1) Nearly two dozen House liberals have signed onto a bill that would prohibit an increase of troops in Afghanistan, The Hill reports. Rep. Barbara Lee and 21 lawmakers introduced H.R. 3699 on Thursday.

2) National security adviser Jones rebuked Gen. McChrystal's public campaign for more troops to be sent to Afghanistan, saying that "it is better for military advice to come up through the chain of command," the Washington Post reports. McChrystal had criticized as "short-sighted" an alternative strategy put forward by Vice President Biden that would not involve sending more troops. Jones indicated that the Obama administration expects McChrystal and his military superiors to broaden the range of alternatives for how best to proceed in Afghanistan.

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