Task force warns Obama over high cost of Aghan war

Symbols of another lost cause: Russian tanks abandoned in Afghanistan

An independent task force cautioned President Barack Obama on Friday about the high cost of the Afghanistan war and said he should consider a narrow military mission if his December review finds the current strategy is not working.

The 25-member task force, led by former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and former national security adviser Samuel Berger, said it saw “hopeful signs” in Afghanistan, such as improved training of security forces, but other trends were less encouraging.

“The cloudy picture and high costs raise the question of whether the United States should now downsize its ambitions and reduce its military presence in Afghanistan,” the task force said in a 98-page report.

“We are mindful of the real threat we face. But we are also aware of the costs of the present strategy. We cannot accept these costs unless the strategy begins to show signs of progress,” said the task force, which was sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations think tank.

Dan Markey, a South Asia analyst at the council who was project director for the report, said the findings were a “sober reflection of a Washington consensus that is increasingly skeptical and concerned” about the war.

The task force was composed of a broad range of former government officials, military leaders, academics and journalists with expertise in the region. The report was not requested by the Obama administration, but the task force did speak to officials involved with the issue.

The group gave a qualified endorsement to Obama’s ambitious counterinsurgency-style strategy, but only if it is clearly making progress.

MORE LIMITED MISSION

“If the December 2010 review of U.S. strategy in Afghanistan concludes that the present strategy is not working, the task force recommends that a shift to a more limited mission at a substantially reduced level of military force would be warranted,” the report said.

The administration’s current strategy calls for U.S.-led forces, including nearly 100,000 American troops, to disrupt al Qaeda and its Taliban allies while training Afghan military and police to take over security.

At the same time, foreign civilians are working to help improve Afghan governance in an effort to broaden popular support for the administration.

As the December review approaches, it is increasingly clear that defense officials believe the war plan is working but needs more time, despite rising casualties and worsening violence.

Administration officials have begun to downplay Obama’s July 2011 deadline for beginning to hand over security to Afghan forces and withdraw U.S. troops as conditions merit.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said this week they viewed Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s plan to assume full responsibility for the country’s security by 2014 as a realistic goal NATO should endorse at its summit this month.

Administration officials have indicated the strategy review is likely to bring only tweaks rather than a wholesale reappraisal of the war effort.

The task force urged the administration to go beyond a narrow evaluation of the places where Afghans may be able to take responsibility for security and also include a “clear-eyed assessment” of whether there is enough progress to conclude the strategy is working.

“The important thing that the report does is to try to clarify what progress should look like,” Markey said.

The report urges the administration to answer questions like whether Afghan police and army capabilities have been significantly improved, whether momentum in contested areas has shifted against the insurgency and whether normal life returns to areas once NATO operations have concluded.

Copyright © 2010 Reuters Ltd.

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8 Responses to "Task force warns Obama over high cost of Aghan war"

  1. freecitizen  November 12, 2010 at 11:34 am

    Signs of progress?!? We have been in this war for ten years and these people are talking about “if” we show signs of progress(after ten years) that we can continue the current non-working strategy?!? These people talk out of both sides of their mouth. End the war, it has just created more enemies!

  2. Carl Nemo  November 12, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    These wars of imperial adventurism on the part of the U.S. have been bleeding this nation white in terms of lives and treasure.

    Modern wars are simply “profit centers” for the MIC with their in place Congressional running dog facilitators continually giving them the green light to do so at tax debtor expense. They have no interest in ‘winning’ anything, it’s the same bullshit fed to the American people during the Nam era in that we were “winning the hearts and minds” of the people of SE Asia, used by LBJ in his speeches. It had been simply too many years between WWII and Korea so by the the sixties the MIC needed a shot in the arm. The money and lives wasted on that engineered conflict was mind boggling to say the least and in the end we left “on the run” via choppers off the embassy. Ike warned America about the dangers of the MIC and Congressional facilitation of such, but no one listened and we are now payinig the supreme price as a nation forced into decline. / : |

    http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/lbjletuscontinue.html

    Yesterday being Veterans Day folks went out of their way to wish me a ‘Happy VA Day’ since they know I’m retired military etc. They were shocked when I simply said “Happy what?!” then proceeded to give them a short, succinct tutorial concerning the modern construct of wars for profit and the senseless loss of life on both sides. In short order what I got from these “pedestrian” mentalities is that they “love their country no matter what”…say what?! I just looked at them and said: because I have a questioning mind, means I don’t? I then vacated the premise and left. This occurred in a local ACE hardware store I frequent, but it provided me with a ‘dipstick’ sampling of the average John Q and Mary citizens’ concept of war along with their mindless mini-flagwaving support; my country right or wrong mentality. The citizens of Nazi Germany fell in line too, then it was too late because questioning became a “death sentence”.

    Evidently too, Americans enjoy being tax slaves to the state.

    *****

    “…the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders… All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism” … Hermann Goering”

    *****

    Carl Nemo **==

  3. Keith  November 12, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    Folks, none of this nonsense is about to stop anytime soon, simply because some 10-15% of this nation’s GDP is dedicated to MAKING WAR.

    This means that if we don’ t currently have a REAL enemy, our politicians need to INVENT ONE in order to keep our firmly entrenched Military Industrial Complex humming along. This is also why I firmly believe this nation will be involved in at least ONE totally baseless “war” somewhere on the planet for decades to come.

    Indeed, if you people think our country’s unemployment rate is high now, just imagine what it would be like if our gormless politicians were to actually get serious about removing an additional 15% of our country’s output of tanks, guns, bombs, ships and airplanes from our nation’s employment mix!

    It is also important to remember that military spending is one of the few remaining manufacturing industries in our country that CAN’T BE EXPORTED because of “security”.

    So if you and I think our politicians are about to stop the current “gravy train” that comes from making war on every real or imagined “boogieman” that moves, then we are all sadly mistaken. Clearly, there is FAR too much money to be made these days from keeping our country’s “war machine” (and that includes all this “homeland securit” nonsense) cranked up and smoothly humming along.

    That’s also why our politicians will do absolutely everything they can to keep providing our Military Industrial Complex (along with its ever-more pervasive “Terrorist Industrial Complex”) with a real (or imagined) purpose to keep cranking out all that hardware and providing all those “security” jobs currently on the rolls.

    Or, to put it another way, to make “peace” will only push our country’s already dismal unemployment rate even higher. Any way you cut it, making “war”…in all of its ugly forms…remains absolutely wonderful for business.

    • Carl Nemo  November 12, 2010 at 7:39 pm

      “It is also important to remember that military spending is one of the few remaining manufacturing industries in our country that CAN’T BE EXPORTED because of “security”.” …extract from post

      Don’t be so sure that our leaders haven’t reached such a low metric as to give our sworn enemies a 20 year leap in technology concerning nuclear weapons delivery and the weapons themselves. That’s what our ‘dear leader’ Bill Clinton did in the 90’s due to his enchantment with Dr. Carrol Quigley’s theory of “multi-polarity” as expressed in his tome, “Tragedy and Hope”; ie., making sure all the major powers on earth have and equal ability to waste each other. Rest assured the book alone didn’t facilitate his putting in motion the mechanism for compromising our secrets of secrets; ie., our nuclear weapons and delivery technology. He did it at the behest of his shadowy controllers in the CIA and the thirst for doing so all for a “few dollars more”. Also multi-polarity fits in with the Rothschild banking model which states simply that “I care not who makes a nation’s laws as long as I control their currency”…Amschel Mayer Rothschild, founder of the House of Rothschild banking dynasty. Note: They financed our American Civil War pushing interest rates to 26% causing fear for our nation’s survival not from the Southern rebels, but from greedy bankers as mentioned by Abraham Lincoln in his letters to contemporaries.

      http://archive.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2003/5/26/214938.shtml

      I concur totally Keith with your theory of engineered wars to hopefully keep Amerika afloat; unfortunately defense sector jobs cater to two few of our population that need jobs “pronto”. We’re dead in the water on the high seas of political intrigues and the obvious abandonment of a nation and its citizens. Evil lives and I know first hand the evil that men do to their fellow men and women of planet earth, again all for a few dollars, shekels, or Euro’s more. / : |

      Carl Nemo **==

  4. Doc_Holiday  November 12, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    This is also why I firmly believe this nation will be involved in at least
    ONE totally baseless “war” somewhere on the planet for decades to
    come. -extract from post.

    I am with you Keith. That is why Bush claimed it the “War on Terror”. Because ladies and gentlemen terror will not end with the death of a few radicals. The threat of terror is ever changing, ever evolving. The death of one terrorist is the growth of two or more. It simply can’t be exterminated.

    What it should have been from the beginning (and by begining I mean post 9/11) is a redress of security both physical and procedural for all Law Enforcement and Security.

    We should have really done a thorough job investigating our intelligence communitys’ shortcomings. Which in my own mind was seeing Cheney knock on the CIA’s back door every morning pushing and pulling to get the exact intelligence he wanted out of them. But there were a few other items that should have been taken care of without having to create bureaucracies. We never had to go after “them” in the first place. We got sucker-punched. Tighten up our guard and continue on. Yes it felt good at first to “take the fight to the enemy” But here we are 10 plus years and without a single pennant of victory to say for it.

    Well I have better things to do than spew my thoughts all over CHB tonight. My son wants to teach me a thing or two about building blocks.

    Doc

    “It’s not difficult to understand why somebody might pick up an AK-47 against us. Maybe we killed his father in the first Gulf War, maybe in this Gulf War, maybe he’s just a d***.”

    – Sgt. Reginald Abram, Third Armored Cavalry Regiment in western Iraq, Oct. 24

  5. griff  November 12, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    Yep, and it seems that the July 2011 deadline celebrated by the Democrats (and their faithful) is now being pushed back to 2014.

    • Carl Nemo  November 12, 2010 at 8:25 pm

      Thanks for the link Griff. It seems our ‘leadership’ will continue to screw around with the internecene intrigues of these regions until it literally blows up in their face with citizens of the U.S. and world at large simply being collateral damage as a function of their myopic intel analysis biased towards furthering the interests of the MIC and that establishment’s corporate bottomline. They seemingly can never see the forest for the trees; ie., the trees being their short term, short-sighted goals for establishing U.S. hegemony over the world at large; vs. ‘the forest’, their out of control ‘empire’ run amok. / : |

      I’ve had the opportunity, but not the pleasure to run across some incredibly bright intellects in the intel community in my time. I was never impressed and always felt they were “idiot savants” within their field, but had no ability to view the whole schema of things as a polymath might concerning national intrigues and alliances.

      *****

      “It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world…”

      “…avoid the necessity of those overgrown military establishments, which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to Republican Liberty.” …both from George Washington’s farewell address

      *****

      Link to his entire farewell address:

      http://www.earlyamerica.com/earlyamerica/milestones/farewell/

      Carl Nemo **==

      • griff  November 12, 2010 at 9:13 pm

        Damn Carl, I was just thinking about posting that exact quote.

        “Foreign influence is truly the Grecian horse to a republic. We cannot be too careful to exclude its influence.” – Alexander Hamilton

        “…the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake; since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of Republican Government.” – George Washington

        “But the safety of the people of America against dangers from foreign force depends not only on their forbearing to give just causes of war to other nations, but also on their placing and continuing themselves in such a situation as not to invite hostility or insult; for it need not be observed that there are pretended as well as just causes of war.” – John Jay

        “What a cruel thing is war: to separate and destroy families and friends, and mar the purest joys and happiness God has granted us in this world; to fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbors, and to devastate the fair face of this beautiful world.” – Robert E. Lee

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