Both General Stanley McChrystal, the senior commander on the ground in Afghanistan, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the senior military advisor to the president of the United States, have now publicly stated that we need more boots on the ground. In contrast, in the last few days both the President and the Vice President have stated that they are in rush to make a decision; that the advice of their senior most military commanders are just one source of input and that they need to “study” the decision more closely. Indecision in the White House is a double blow to US security.
First, it sends a strong signal to America’s allies and to our enemies that we may be wavering in our support for the mission in Afghanistan. Second, the longer we wait to reinforce the troops that are already there, the more those troops are at risk.
American resolve in Afghanistan is the irreplaceable ingredient for victory. Without American support the NATO commitment will dissolve; building up the Afghan military and police, civil infrastructure, and local economy won’t happen; the Pakistan government will fulfill its commitments to root out the Taliban and al Qaeda. In short, without a full US effort the mission there will fail.
Those that want to cut and run in Afghanistan, those that applaud the Administration’s commitment to half-measures, don’t spend much time discussing the cost of failure….and the cost is pretty high, turning Afghanistan back to the Taliban and al Qaeda will lead to another 9/11; risk destabilizing the region and potentially to a war between Pakistan and India; and reenergize Bin Laden’s war on the West. That is too high a price to pay.