Changing the Rhetoric While Plagiarizing the Policies



A U.S. Marine from Charlie 1/1 of the 15th MEU (Marine Expeditionary Unit) carries empty sand bags to a mortar position in southern Afghanistan, December 1, 2001.

It’s no longer the “War on Terror” but the “Overseas Contingency Operation”. Great. We went from a bad name to a worse PC-driven name.

While the anti-war pro-peace liberal progressive base are calling for an end to the war on Afghanistan, President Obama is doing just the opposite, doubling down on an old way forward by escalating the war in a manner that is consistent with, and reminiscent of, what his predecessor might have done:

His strategy is built on an ambitious goal of boosting the Afghan army from 80,000 to 134,000 troops by 2011 _ and greatly increasing training by U.S. troops accompanying them _ so the Afghan military can defeat Taliban insurgents and take control of the war. [Translation: When Afghans stand up, we’ll stand down]

That, he said, is “how we will ultimately be able to bring our troops home.”

There is no timetable for withdrawal, and the White House said it had no estimate yet on how many billions of dollars its plan will cost.

Kori Schake, also writing at Shadow Government, notes how this sounds quite a bit like McCain:

President Obama’s plan for Afghanistan is first rate. In fact, it sounds an awful lot like John McCain’s strategy for Afghanistan announced last summer, which is all to the good. And Obama outlined the resources necessary to carry it out: additional troops; greater participation by non-military departments; focus on training Afghan security forces; strengthening Afghan and Pakistani institutions of government; 5-year assistance packages for both countries; routine, high-level trilateral consultations with Afghanistan and Pakistan; creation of a Contact Group of neighbors and contributors; and trying to separate reconcilables from irreconcilables among the bad guys. Obama said he will set clear metrics to gauge progress, which is important and should be gotten underway fast.

And this is why the CodePink-types are up in arms; whereas NORMAL Americans from the left who might join in with pitchforks if this were announced by Bush, are more subdued and receptive that Obama is taking the pragmatic, responsible course of action here. By example, Feaver notes that Bush critics and Obama water carriers

who praise benchmarks in the Afghan strategy are the same folks who rushed to declare the Iraq surge a failure because certain benchmarks were not met by 2007.

Will the timelines calling for withdrawal arrive anytime soon?

Certainly, the lip-service has somewhat changed, as President Obama attempts to present to the world a “kinder, gentler” U.S. of A. But in our obsession with wanting to be loved by the world, we run the risk of not being respected by our enemies.

Even though, on the domestic front, President Obama seems to be implementing drastic changes we can’t, won’t, and don’t believe in, just how much of a departure is his foreign policy from that of President George W. Bush? Was Bush really so radical? Or are he and his successor carrying out a foreign policy that is more consistently pro-American than it is pro-partisan? And looking more similar than different?

American Power writes:

If folks are going to criticize Obama on Afghanistan, it should be for not doing enough. As Michael Yon noted this week, “the increase of 21,000 U.S. troops is likely just a bucket of water on the growing bonfire.” Michael Yon is hardly a “neocon,” although the very “fantasists” that Larison excoriates have suggested that despite Obama’s caution, “the president is pragmatic in the best sense of the word.”

Peter Feaver reports on how the Washington Post drew a contrast between President Bush’s last Afghanistan speech and President Obama’s recent one. According to Feaver, he sees Obama’s rhetoric as endorsing a minimalist approach, yet carrying out the maximalist one favored by Ambassador Holbrooke, General Petraeus, and Feaver’s loyal opposition colleague, Christian Brose.


But is there really a substantive contrast? What Obama committed the United States to do — for the narrowest of counterterrorism objectives — is build up the governance structures of Afghanistan and Pakistan with a massive influx of economic aid; build up the security structures of Afghanistan and Pakistan with a massive influx of military aid; enable the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan to exercise effective sovereignty over all of their territory; and shift the Afghan economy once and for all from a reliance on narcotics that, in Obama’s words “undermines the economy” and “fuels the insurgency.” (As Tom Donnelly has wryly observed, Obama has assigned Holbrooke to a counternarcotics program that is, in essence, the same program that Holbrooke called “the most wasteful and ineffective program I have seen in 40 years.”) As my Shadow colleague Philip Zelikow has noted, this set of objectives appears to be largely the Bush agenda, as determined by the strategic review the Bush team completed at the end of last year.

Even Iran doesn’t appear fooled:

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei dismissed overtures from President Barack Obama on Saturday, saying Tehran does not see any change in U.S. policy under its new administration.


“They chant the slogan of change but no change is seen in practice. We haven’t seen any change,” Khamenei said in a speech before a crowd of tens of thousands in the northeastern holy city of Mashhad.

A Bush policy by any other name is still a Bush policy. Since President Obama wasn’t above plagiarizing from speeches, why not policy matters as well? So long as it’s disguised as “anything other than Bush”.

Actually, amidst the criticism of appearing weak, even some of President Obama’s words echo the tough talk of former President Bush:

“I remind everybody, the United States of America did not choose to fight a war in Afghanistan,” Obama said. “Nearly 3,000 of our people were killed on Sept. 11, 2001, for doing nothing more than going about their daily lives.”

Didn’t Bush get nailed to the cross for bringing up Sept. 11th in speeches?

Well, whatever the case may be, wherever it may be fought- from Iraq to Pakistan to Somalia to Indonesia to Afghanistan- and whatever it may be called, this is not Obama’s war or Bush’s war: It’s America’s war. And we better fight it to win.

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these troops were requested 8 months ago and were NOT approved by Bush. After almost 8 years the Taliban are stronger and control more ground than at any time post 9/11

John Ryan, these troops were requested back in late 2006. The call has gone out repeatedly to our NATO membership to step up to the plate over the ensuing years… and they have repeatedly refused. And those that do show up have wussy rules of engagement.

Obama was on record back then saying he wanted the US to fill in for the NATO do-nothings. McCain was on record with the military officials.. reluctant to put a more American than NATO face on the conflict. It is, after all, under NATO command and has been since summer of 2006.

In 2006, to get all the countries to sign on to the NATO plan to take over from the U.S. in Afghanistan, certain “caveats” were negotiated. Some nations agreed to send troops that would not fight; others would fight, but only in certain areas. Some sent troops in for four months, others for nine months. Troops under NATO command could fire only when fired on—but they could not start offensive operations.

This is supposed to be a multi-national force, not a US force. Increasing the US soldier footprint is more of a risk as we look more like a US occupier/problem than a cure to the Afghans themselves. As I pointed out in my Mar 20th post about Obama’s implementation of the Bush template, even Gates worries about increasing US fighters (as opposed to US reconstruction troops).

I’ve been very concerned about an open-ended commitment of increasing numbers of troops for a variety of reasons, including the size of our footprint in Afghanistan, and my worry that the Afghans come to see us as not their partners and allies, but as part of their problem.”

So you are not only incorrect about when these troops were requested, you are also incorrect about the former POTUS. It is his strategy template that Obama uses today.

And the only place the Taliban controls “more ground than at any time post 9/11” is in Pakistan… a nation where dealing with them is out of our control. Even at that, I have to wonder if their gain of SWAT makes up for control of the entire country of Afghanistan, PLUS their previous control in Pakistan. So me thinks you babble propaganda instead of fact.

Something that is contingent is not a necessary operation, thus it can be abandoned at will.
These are the definitions of contingent:

1. dependent for existence, occurrence, character, etc., on something not yet certain; conditional (often fol. by on or upon): Our plans are contingent on the weather.
2. liable to happen or not; uncertain; possible: They had to plan for contingent expenses.
3. happening by chance or without known cause; fortuitous; accidental: contingent occurrences.
4. Logic. (of a proposition) neither logically necessary nor logically impossible, so that its truth or falsity can be established only by sensory observation.

Everything about contingency, indicates it is uncertain, not logically necessary, possible but not likely, chancy, unlikely, conditional. That’s a great way to go. That will boost morale. It’s also somewhat Clintonian, in that it’s a defensive as opposed to offensive posture. If we are struck, then we will react to that contingent ‘man created disaster’ eventuality. This is the same sick policy that the democraps wanted after 9/11, money for ‘first responders’ (i.e. for after the disaster funding) but not for aggressive first responses by the military or preventative measures (assertive non contingent actions).


You confused the issue by using a generic definition of “contingency”

This is the military definition of contingency:

(DOD) An emergency involving military forces caused by natural disasters, terrorists, subversives, or by required military operations. Due to the uncertainty of the situation, *contingencies require plans, rapid response, and special procedures to ensure the safety and readiness of personnel, installations, and equipment.*

Some thoughts on the term “War on Terror” Notice the comments of one of the authors of the Army’s counterinsurgency manual:

The Bush administration adopted the phrase soon after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to capture the scope of the threat it perceived and the military operations that would be required to confront it.

But critics abroad and at home, including some within the U.S. military, said the terminology mischaracterized the nature of the enemy and its abilities. Some military officers said, for example, that classifying al-Qaeda and other anti-American militant groups as part of a single movement overstated their strength.

Early in Bush’s second term, then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld promoted a change in wording to “global struggle against violent extremism,” or GSAVE. Bush rejected the shift and never softened his position that “global war” accurately describes the conflict that the United States is fighting.

John A. Nagl, the former Army officer who helped write the military’s latest counterinsurgency field manual, said the phrase “was enormously unfortunate because I think it pulled together disparate organizations and insurgencies.”

“Our strategy should be to divide and conquer rather than make of enemies more than they are,” said Nagl, now president of the Center for a New American Security, a defense policy think tank in Washington. “We are facing a number of different insurgencies around the globe — some have local causes, some of them are transnational. Viewing them all through one lens distorts the picture and magnifies the enemy.”


Were I you, I’d be a lot more careful about accusing someone of babbling propaganda. Methinks.

John Ryan is not wrong about a request for more troops approximately 8 months ago

Bush: More Troops To Afghanistan By 2009
President Reiterates Promise To Bolster Force On Increasingly Bloody Battlefield
WASHINGTON, July 3, 2008 | by David Martin

“We’re going to increase troops by 2009,” Mr. Bush said, without offering details of exactly when or how many.

The U.S. Defense Department’s top military officer said Wednesday that if security continues to improve in Iraq he is hopeful he will begin to have troops available to shift to Afghanistan by the end of this year. *Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said more troops are essential to stem the violence.*

Look at the date of the article, President Bush’s comments, and Adm. Mullen’s statement.

And John was not far off the mark re: the degree of Taliban control of Afghanistan:

Before its ouster by U.S.-led forces in 2001, the Taliban controlled some *90 percent* of Afghanistan’s territory, although it was never officially recognized by the United Nations. After its toppling, the Taliban has proven resilient. In November 2007, the Senlis Council, a London-based think tank, estimated that the Taliban maintained a “permanent presence in *54 percent* of Afghanistan” (PDF), and continued to exert influence on regions outside the central government’s sphere of control, predominantly in southern and eastern provinces. In rural regions where government or coalition aid has not materialized, the Taliban continues to “rally popular support” for its policies, Senlis says.

Re: the military advice on the current additional deployment and the use of Bush’s “template”

U.S. commander in Afghanistan: Influx of 17,000 more troops will help ‘stalemate’
*Gen. David McKiernan praises Obama for deployment decision as he tells the Tribune’s Kim Barker that the additional forces don’t constitute an Iraq-style ‘surge’*

February 27, 2009

Q But is 17,000 enough?

A *That’s just what the president approved. And he did that based on my request, * and really to get us the forces to get to the summer, the height of the fighting season. And that was a very difficult decision because he hasn’t finished the strategic review for his administration and their strategy and policy for this region. Later in the year will there be other decision points to adjust future requirements? Absolutely. *I’m absolutely satisfied with the president’s decision for U.S. forces.* Now I’m like others. I want the international community [ NATO allies] to contribute more.,0,7446192.story

Re: Your earlier comment that Mullah Omar IS the Taliban

Most Taliban supporters, counter-insurgency experts surmise, are not Omar’s natural allies. Politics aside, all factions, including those aligned with the pro-Western president, Hamid Karzai, live off the lucrative heroin and opium trade. Competing with the seductive allure of religious fanaticism, violence and drugs won’t be easy.

Should NATO do more? Yes. But if they won’t, we have to. Remember the much vaunted “coalition of the willing”? Neither Berlin, Paris, or London were attacked on September 11, 2001, New York was.