Who’s Going to Foot This Bill?

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UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg

President Obama announces his decision to send an additional 30,000 "surge" troops to Afghanistan at West Point on Dec. 1, 2009

William Pfaff has written a stunning critique of Obama’s policy in Afghanistan — and what its implications are for what is left of the American republic.  Note particularly the estimates for sustaining the American-created Afghan National Security Force after 2014: $4.1 billion annually, of which the Afghans will pay only $500 million.  The U.S. will continue to shovel out $2.3 billion per year and NATO will make up for the rest.

The likelihood of sustaining this money flow for any length of time is vanishingly low, to put it charitably.  This disastrous exit situation is a direct consequence of Obama’s reckless approval of General Stanley McChrystal’s fatally flawed “surge”plan in early 2010.  The central flaw was clearly evident in September 2009, well before Obama’s approval in early 2010.

Namely, McChrystal’s plan did not address the debilitating problems impeding a rapid buildup of effective Afghan security forces in the short time horizon envisioned for the “surge’s” effect to begin an drawdown of forces 18 months after its initiation (e.g., as I explained in September 2009  and in  January 2010).  Predictably, the problems causing the inability of the Afghan Security Forces to meet McChrystal’s planned goals have remained in place and in some cases have gotten worse, notwithstanding the expenditure of billions of training dollars.

Pfaff’s conclusion is almost self-evident: Obama’s domestic politics played fast and loose with the question of escalating the “good” war in Afghanistan; his inexperience and naivete set him up to be steamrollered by the military; and now, Obama is so vulnerable, it is too late for him to pull off even a Nixonesque deception to extricate himself semi-gracefully by  “Vietnamizing” the Afghan War.

How the American dysfunctional political system will cope with the ramifications of this debacle is unknowable.