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President Obama Wins NATO Support For More Afghanistan Troops, But Serious Afghan Social Problems Remain Unaddressed

In yet another foreign policy success this week, President Obama won commitments from Britain, France and Germany to provide 5,000 more troops to supplement the 21,000 new American forces that will sent to Afghanistan in a renewed effort to destroy Al Qaeda. Past foreign policy during the Bush Administration clearly lost the focus on Afghanistan when it started military action in Iraq.

A renewed effort to defeat Al Qaeda's bases in Afghanistan and Pakistan would prevent this terrorist organization from being able to send terrorists all over the world to create mayhem.

President Bush allowed his personal feelings to motivate his efforts to invade and occupy Iraq, however with the continued bases in Afghanistan and Pakistan to train and recruit new fighters, new insurgents only flowed into Iraq or other nations and created acts of senseless violence against civilians in public places. A focused effort to finally rid the world of this criminal organization would dramatically reduce worldwide terrorist violence as well make the U.S. much safer.

Not all of the 5,000 new NATO troops will be combat forces. Many will be trainers who will train Afghan troops to be able to defend their own nation as part of the new Obama policy is to raise up a credible new Afghan military. Afghanistan is a very primitive and backward nation with little real development, however building a credible military is a vital key to this nation's future success. However, there have been some recent bad signs of the Karzai government bending to social demands of the Taliban such as harassing or arresting TV station managers on flimsy morals charges such as showing women in Western dress dancing on TV. If the Karzai government continues to bend to Taliban social demands, then it means that that the Taliban and Al Qaeda actually remain as the strongest political and social forces in the nation. On the other hand, one of the few liberalizations by the Taliban is stop measuring the beards of men.

Part of the problem with the Bush Iraq War policy is that it hurt world support for foreign policy to defeat Al Qaeda. Changing American administrations as well the successful appearance by President Obama in the G20 Summit all helped to clear the air enough to create a second chance for this new effort to refocus the effort on Afghanistan.

Sadly, social life for most Afghanistan women remains very bad because of the backward society of Afghanistan and unwanted arranged marriages. Young women are routinely attacked by Taliban thugs for attempting to get an education in Afghanistan in the few schools that exist to educate girls. Life is so bad for so many young women in this country that many prefer to set themselves on fire in an attempt to kill themselves to protest their oppression in this society. Many women fail in this attempt to kill themselves, and spend the rest of their lives as horribly disfigured burn victims with little value as a woman in this society or a male to provide them a living, creating an entire class of oppressed and poverty stricken disabled women. Socially, Afghanistan is one of the worst nations on Earth, yet militant fighters will continue to emerge to defend this bad social social system. After the 1979 invasion of Afghanistan, the Soviets failed to make this a godless and secular state and modernize it, and the U.S. and NATO still struggle in a society with primitive social values and primitive religious views. Afghanistan is nearly stone age state and very difficult to modernize.

The Obama policy in Afghanistan really needs to not only defeat Al Qaeda and the Taliban, but needs to socially improve the backward conditions in a very poor nation where many don't like life in Afghanistan, yet will fight to their death to defend socially backward customs and a religious system that holds women in great oppression so much that suicide by fire looks a good alternative by comparison to many. Afghanistan is a sad nation of many tears.

Changing the social environment and culture of Afghanistan is a difficult problem that continues to fuel new fighters for the Taliban and Al Qaeda. And how to change this culture that fuels these religious fighters remains as a very difficult question.

Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!

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Comments (20)


[Marc the troll was banned a year and half ago - and this comment was unpublished in keeping with his ban - Lee]

Paul Hooson:

Marc, I think I made my own pretty good case that a lot more than sending a few NATO or American troops is really needed to address the social, cultural and religious problems that fuel both the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. However, the president had some success this week at cracking open better cooperation from allies like France, Germany and the UK.

In Afghanistan, when many women feel that setting themselves on fire is a pretty viable alternative to being forced into unhappy arranged marriages and continued cultural oppression, a lot more than a few NATO or American troops are needed to address all of this.

My best guess, is just like the Soviets, we eventually lose in Afghanistan and their stubborn oppressive culture and religious values survive. Superstition such as religion is a hard thing to defeat.

Marc, you alone can judge whether my response here is indeed thoughtful and measured or "pathetic" by your own standards of measurement.

Paul Phillips:

Can you provide a link supporting your claim of 5000 more troops from Great Britain, France and Germany or is that a number plucked from the air?


I'll vouch for Paul's misrepresentation of the facts once again. The NY Times reported that approximately 3,000 troops will deploy to Afghanistan for a short period during the upcoming election but then leave, and that between 1,400 and 2,000 will be sent for training purposes. So you will not be seeing any additional troops from NATO that will be there to operate for an extended period in the battlespace. In other words, they are not being sent there to engage the Taliban, but to avoid it. I must admire Paul's optimism, since even reliable liberal news sources do not consider this a commitment of troops that President Obama was looking for.



"STRASBOURG, France - President Barack Obama heralded "concrete commitments" from NATO allies to help advance a new U.S. strategy in Afghanistan on Saturday, calling their agreement to send up to 5,000 more military trainers and police to Afghanistan "a strong down payment" toward securing the country.

The allies, however, refused to agree to a U.S. request for additional combat troops."



[Marc the troll was banned a year and half ago - and this comment was unpublished in keeping with his ban - Lee]

Oh, brother. Forcing me to stick up for marc...


Paul, Lee says we've already lost, it's over. I guess we should just tell our allies not to bother sending anymore troops. I don't think we will lose in Afghanistan. At least not if we maintain the "political" will to win. Our troops are simply too good to lose, so long as the political leaders of this country will let them do their jobs. Yeah, it's going to be a long war. The cause of freedom is worth it. We just need to remember that some things are worth fighting for. Too many people don't believe it anymore. So long as we remain committed to the fight, and so long as we truly support our military (in thought, word, and action) they will win, and they will bring freedom to oppressed people. If people stop talking about supporting the troops out one side of their mouth and calling them murderers, stupid lazy bastards that couldn't get a real job, or babykillers, that would help. (those are all from personal experience by the way) Our real allies are the nations that have stood by us in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Most of the contingents from Europe outside the UK and Danes have tried very hard to avoid areas where they will actually expect a fight. I understand that it's not politically popular back home, but you promised to help fight, you need to commit to it. The Estonians, Poles, Georgians, I love those guys. They were doing the dirty work in Iraq, and didn't get nearly enough credit for it. Those are real allies. I think the individual German soldier is excellent, but I believe the German political system has forgotten that freedom is worth fighting for.


I have to agree with Chad, we can win this war, if we continue to support it, and if (which will most likely not happen) the politicians keep their so-called expert advice out of it and let the military do it's job.

The politicians caused us to lose Viet Nam, not the military. And many of us back then were spit upon, called names, etc. I'm saying politicians got us into both messes, and most of those politicians were draft dodgers that don't know manure about effects their actions have caused the grunts.

And IMO, Afgan would be almost over if President Bush wouldn't have invaded Iraq because he wanted to show he could. Iraq had no connection to the terrorists that attacked us, had no WMD's. And we sure as hell wasn't greeted with open arms and flowers. Over 4000 dead, thousands wounded, and our gov't tossed them aside when they came home. (Reference the VA) Our politicians refuse to fully fund the VA. Our country people, have broken their pledge to all serving and past veterans.

How can some of the bleeding hearts defend that? Same as the "yellow elephants" trying to defend their actions.

Paul Hooson:

Hello guys, I don't really feel that my piece was overly optimistic here. On one hand President Obama secured 5,000 foreign troops mainly to train up an Afghan army which is some measure of success. On the other hand, the Karzai government is beginning to bend to Taliban demands when he arrests TV station owners for showing women in Western dress merely dancing on TV. And when many beautiful young women prefer to set themselves on fire to create a painful protest of the awful lives forced upon them in Afghanistan, this society is seriously disturbed and it will take a lot more than just more troops, both American and foreign to sort this nation out.

In 1979, the Soviet invasion would have at least created a godless secular society in Afghanistan in which there would have been universal education, universal health care, and removed the primitive religious and cultural influences in this nearly stone age society, Yet it was the U.S. that strongly opposed this during the Reagan years, helping to send arms to build up the Taliban, Al Qaeda and other Mujahideen elements that opposed the Soviet invasion. I know the soviets were far less than ideal. But in a society this bad, they at least represented modernization and positive change, although their aims were largely border security for their nation.


Paul, I hate to break it to you, but the Soviet system you're saying would be better didn't work out very well for any country it's been tried in. Russia is much better off in literacy and economical policy than it was in the late 1970's (even though they were hiding it pretty well). The invasion of Afghanistan by the soviets had nothing to do with border security, it was a blatant territory grab in preparation for a move on the gulf. I will agree with you that muslim theocracies don't seem to be an ideal system, and I don't believe any theocracy can be as religiously tolerant as the founding fathers had in mind. I am not a fan of the Karzai government, I think the Afghani people can do far better for themselves. The soviets NEVER managed to achieve a secular ideal. Officially they did, but the christians, muslims, etc. just went underground. Smuggled bibles were a high demand black market item. The fall of the whole communist block started (visibly) with Pope John Paul's pressure on Poland to allow religious freedom. Freedom OF Religion, and Freedom FROM Religion are two different things. A little freedom OF religion in the middle east would go a long way to negating some of the human rights issues you see there (especially in regards to equality of the sexes). Just my opinion.

Paul Hooson:

Chad, I certainly agree with you that the Soviet system was just plain awful. But in a case like Afghanistan, the Soviet mistake to invade the country would have eventually cost the Soviets billions in foreign aid to build schools, hospitals, etc. and modernized this stone age state. The Soviets were actually inviting a welfare state mess with their invasion of such a poor country. Even their friendship with Cuba has cost them a lot of money. And their meddling in Africa cost plenty as well. The Soviets used to look to some of the worst basket case states to set up political allies and instead ended up having to send plenty of foreign aid to improve the places. In the case of Afghanistan, this might have proven to be a good thing despite the huge problems I have with any sort of Communist system.

Mac Lorry:
The Obama policy in Afghanistan really needs to not only defeat Al Qaeda and the Taliban, but needs to socially improve the backward conditions in a very poor nation. . .

The ostensible success at nation building in Iraq shouldn't sucker Obama into adopting the goal you outline for success in Afganistan. If we have learned anything from the last 8 years it's that the American electorate has no stomach for a protracted military struggle. Obama would have to sacrifice the political viability of both himself and his party to free the people of Afghanistan.

It's unfortunate that people in places like Afghanistan and Dufar must suffer under the boot of radical Islam, but America has lost it's will to do anything more than disrupt those who would bring death to our soil.


Mac, not all of America has lost that will. The military will not quit these fights. We've given blood, sweat, and tears to the fight, we don't quit, and we won't lose. I don't think the American people will vote for people that prove that they want to allow us to lose. I think there are some elements of our society that would like us to lose, but I don't consider them Americans anyway, no matter their citizenship. I would hazard a guess and say that 95% of the American people want us to "win". I just don't think they understand what that requires. Getting out no matter what, ending wars, etc. are all terms that people use, but they don't mean win. People just don't understand, there's only two results in war. It's a binary solution set. There is no third result. To win a war, you must also win in the stabilization phase, or you must revert to a pillage, rape, burn, exit strategy of warfare. If you can't learn to stabilize the area and leave it non-hostile, all you have done is created a new enemy. America is good at this, but it requires time and money. Time to raise up a government that respects human rights, set up basic services to provide for the citizenry, and time to raise a generation of those that grow up with their country being better off for our forces having been there. Basically, leaving an islamist government in place really hurts us on those first two, but we're getting good at working around it. We need to fund getting schools and infrastructure set up, and we need to improve the quality of life for the Afghanis. Numer 1, because it's the right thing to do, and Number 2, so that they look favorably upon us with fond remembrance. You bring Russian troops into Afghanistan anytime in the next 30 years, every man with a gun is going to be taking pot-shots at them. It's a difference in how you treat the people. American soldiers may occupy a country like any other military, but we do it as liberators, not oppressors, it's a huge philosophical difference. That difference is why we as Americans need to continue to stand behind efforts to WIN the war, not just "exit" the war.

Mac Lorry:


Mac, not all of America has lost that will.

You're right, about 27% of Americans supported Bush to the end.

The military will not quit these fights. We've given blood, sweat, and tears to the fight, we don't quit, and we won't lose.

It's not the military who has no stomach for a protracted military struggle, it's the American electorate. Once the political will is gone the military gets pulled out.

I don't think the American people will vote for people that prove that they want to allow us to lose.

The elections of 2006 and 2008 show that they will.

I would hazard a guess and say that 95% of the American people want us to "win". I just don't think they understand what that requires.

Sure most Americans want America to win as long as it's easy and quick, but you're right, they don't understanding what it takes and that's the problem. Once they start to see what it takes most want out.

The first Gulf war was easy and quick and that was the public's expectation going into the second Gulf war. And as expected, Saddam's military collapsed, but it collapsed so fast that the U.S. was caught unprepared for the nation building part and that cost us lots of lives, time and treasure. Bush sacrificed himself and his party politically to free Iraq from Saddam and then from radical Islam. It's now up to the people of Iraq to keep the freedom that was bought with so much blood.

Afghanistan is even a bigger problem, and Obama, seeing what nation building cost Republicans, is setting a different goal. That goal makes a distinction between followers of radical Islam who are content to rule their own nation and followers of radical Islam who want to terrorize the world. The goal is to drive a wedge between the Taliban and al-Qaeda and leave the Taliban to their own goals as long as they don't allow al-Qaeda or other international terrorist groups to use Afghanistan as a base. An extremist Islamic state is no threat to the United States as long as it doesn't develop nuclear weapons nor try to export it's extremist views. The Taliban learned in 2001 that if they pose a threat to the United States, the United States has the muscle to force them from power, even if it's only temporary. It's not implausible that U.S. troops will fight with the Taliban against al-Qaeda.

Yes, that strategy means suffering for the people of Afghanistan, but that's what happens when the defenders of freedom are no longer willing to pay the price freedom demands, which is always blood.

Lee Ward:

Well said, Mac.


Mac, I really don't think that's what the American Electorate was saying. I believe that what you are portraying as a will to lose is the very mis-understanding I was discussing. Sure, everyone wants the troops home, even the troops. However, none of the troops and most of the populace don't want the country to lose the war. Phrasing the question differently changes the meaning. Troops home does not connotate a victory. Everyone wants the troops home, however, we all want the war won, which means that these countries, the ideology that supported them, and the means for people to kill American citizens in our own country have to be changed. Everyone wants that as well. Obama didn't get into office saying "I will lose the war". He said "I will bring the troops home". The problem is that bringing them home prematurely results in losing the war. Period. Nobody voted for that. They voted for "bringing the troops home" without the understanding that doing so before the stabilization is complete only results in more death and suffering for Americans, and the citizens of Afghanistan and Iraq. Oh, and by the way, It's not Gulf War II. There is no such thing. It's the Iraq Theatre of Operations in the Global War on Terror. The Idea that we have 2 wars going on is erroneous. There is 1 war with about 45 different fronts. Iraq and Afghanistan are only the most visible and kinetic. The fallacy that we are fighting 2 wars was a way to politicize the fight, and was concocted by the media as a way to strike at President Bush's foreign policy. It doesn't matter whether the fight occurs in Africa, Southwest Asia, or the Southern Border of the USA, it's all about stopping terrorism. There are operations going 24/7, and they are all over the world, from intelligence gathering to satelite intel analysis, it's all one war. If you go out to any busy streetcorner and ask people how many of them want us to lose the war on terror (leave out any mention of troops, presidents, politics, economics, etc.) I guarantee you that 90-95% or higher will answer negatively. Do most of them understand what that will cost, no. Do I care which President wins the war, no. Do I care about doing the job right, ending the threat, and winning with honor, damn right I do. Winning the war is not, nor has never been about President Bush. It's not about President Obama either. It's about the electorate saying to their representatives, "support victory, win the fight". Not that most of them will listen, they're mostly too wrapped up in how much they can get for bilking the American people. It's about supporting the troops, and fighting until VICTORY is won, not just bringing troops home without finishing the job. Look at Israel for example. They hit Hamas in Gaza, cave to international pressure, pull back, Hamas keeps lobbing rockets, it all starts over again. I believe that your surmise about an isolationist extremist government is incorrect. There has never been an isolationist islamic extremist state. Even the not-so-extreme islamic nations export their terrorism to other countries. It's the basic principle of Jihad that needs to be rooted out of islamic accepted practices. Just as christianity (for the most part) grew out of the military crusade mindset, islam needs to grow out of the idea that taking by forced conversion is acceptable. Some sects (the druze for example) have accepted this, but most find it unacceptable. So long as Jihad and Martyrdom are acceptable practices, terrorism will spread. It doesn't matter that they don't have nuclear weapons, the hijackers on 9/11 had freaking box-cutters. Doesn't get much more low-tech than that. It's not about who's sitting in power in Afghanistan right now, it's about the Afghans as a whole, about the next generation of Afghans, and whether they respect your rights.

Lee Ward:

"it's about the Afghans as a whole, about the next generation of Afghans, and whether they respect your rights."

Now you nutcakes are finally starting to "get it."

Guess what - you need to act respectful in order to get respect in return.

You can't beat people into "respecting us and our rights" by invading and waging war against Islam under false pretenses.

NOW we actually have a chance to protect ourselves -- by earning and forging two-way mutually respectful talks.

Having GOP asses in the White House for 8 years was so, so wrong.

Mac Lorry:
Mac, I really don't think that's what the American Electorate was saying. I believe that what you are portraying as a will to lose is the very mis-understanding I was discussing.

It's not that the American Electorate wants to lose, it's that they're not willing to pay the cost to win.

Oh, and by the way, It's not Gulf War II. There is no such thing. It's the Iraq Theatre of Operations in the Global War on Terror.

It's called operation Iraqi freedom among other things. I call it Gulf War II because that best describes how it's treated in the mainstream media even if they don't use the term.

Just as christianity (for the most part) grew out of the military crusade mindset, islam needs to grow out of the idea that taking by forced conversion is acceptable.

It's a myth that Christianity grew out of the military crusade mindset, as it never had such a mindset. There's no general call to war against unbelievers anywhere in the Bible and certainly not in the New Testament. What changed western Christianity was the reformation, which put the teachings of Christ above the will of a pope. It's a false hope that Islam will have a similar reformation as Jihad and war against unbelievers is in fact a part of Islam.

Winning the war on terror doesn't necessarily mean freeing Afghanistan from radical Islam. In fact, attempting to do so would be political suicide for Obama and the democratic majority. Just today Obama said the United States is not and never will be at war with Islam. The question is, is Islam at war with the United States? If the leaders of Islam reject Obama's efforts to make peace the American Electorate will find man with the courage and fortitude of Bush and go to war, but this time we won't come as liberators, or occupiers, or even as conquers, but as destroyers.

For centuries Islam has boosted about it's willingness to die in the cause of Islam, and thus, the suicide warrior (bomber) and the terror that puts into the hearts of all who would oppose Islam. In the 21st century the United States as the capability of suicide warriors, but without sacrificing our people, and thus, Islam has lost another advantage. Now those who plot harm against the United States huddle in fear of predators hunting them silently an unleashing deadly force upon from a black sky. The message to Islam is simple, live in peace with the United States and we'll help you improve your lot in life. Strike out at the United States and you'll die in fire from above. We do not value your lives as much as we value our freedom and we will not live in fear of you.


Mac, you and I are arguing the same point, just crossing wires between definitions. I agree that Islam in it's current form will not accept a peaceful coexistence. That's why I say that looking for a isolationist Afghanistan is unrealistic. Christianity did participate in crusades, but you are correct, they were not mandated by scripture, but the person who was pope at the time. I'd like to point out that the first crusade was called for by the ruler of constantinople because of threat of imminent invasion by Muslim armies across the Bosporus. It wasn't a religious crusade, but was a military action to reclaim territory lost to an invading army. Lee, were we the ones that flew planes into skyscrapers? I think not. They started it, they declared war by allowing Al Queda to train in their territory. Yeah, they have to respect our rights, freedoms, and way of life. THEY are unwilling to.


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