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Irish Times Saturday, July 18, 2009

 Obama policy in Afghanistan on a knife edge

“In their recent book, Invisible History, Afghanistan’s Untold Story, Paul FitzGerald and Elizabeth Gould, two US journalists with a long involvement there, trace how it has re-emerged after being parked with a compliant Pakistani regime during the Iraq war.

As they write: “The Bush administration diverted the necessary resources and attention away from where al-Qaeda was, into Iraq where al-Qaeda wasn’t. The administration then continued for seven years to underfinance the Afghan war, perform a hurricane Katrina-like Afghan reconstruction charade while hiring Afghan warlords and Pakistani Gen Pervez Musharraf to do the job for it.”

Asked last year whether this complicated US entanglement with the region was worth it, the geopolitical theorist Zbigniew Brzezinski, who set it up in 1978-9 as Jimmy Carter’s national security adviser, replied with a definite yes. The larger prize, the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989, was a direct consequence of its difficulties in Afghanistan, which gave Ronald Reagan the excuse to ratchet up military expenditure in the 1980s. Speaking at meetings throughout the US, FitzGerald and Gould report a bewilderment about why the extra troops are being sent there now. They believe the Obama administration is buying time to save face, redefine its commitment and reorganise its priorities. “Whether it realises it or not, Washington has placed itself in a fight for its life in Afghanistan, just the way the Soviets did. Both its political and its military credibility are on the line and neither can tolerate another failure.

“Obama’s 17,000 troopers will make little difference without a reorganisation of Washington’s priorities away from its unyielding support for a dysfunctional Pakistani military.” get the full article

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