KABUL (Reuters) - The 8-year-old war in Afghanistan can still be won, but only with a revised strategy, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces said on Monday, announcing the conclusion of a long-awaited review that could see him seek more troops.I'm not going to suggest that Herr General McChrystal would be stuck for an answer if someone asked him what the success in Afghanistan that he insists is achievable would look like, if achieved. He'd have an answer, and it would boil down to a U.S. puppet government appearing to be in stable control of the country -- a puppet government in the sense that it would be amenable to permanent U.S. bases there, and also to suitable deals with oil-pipeline operators. His answer would be in reasonably correct English and would, superficially, sound sensible, at least to the Great American Public. Most importantly, it would be acceptable to his boss, President Lyndon Baines Obama. Why am I thinking LBJ? Can you say "escalation?" I knew you could:
Officials gave no indication in public as to whether U.S. Army General Stanley McChrystal, who commands a force of more than 100,000 troops, would ask for still more reinforcements to carry out his new strategy.
The review is expected to spell out a completely revised approach to conducting the war, which Barack Obama considers the main foreign policy priority of his young U.S. presidency.
"The situation in Afghanistan is serious, but success is achievable and demands a revised implementation strategy, commitment and resolve, and increased unity of effort," McChrystal said in a statement announcing the review was ready.
McChrystal has been working on the review since Obama put him in charge of the war in June. He sent the classified document to the U.S. military's Central Command (CentCom) responsible for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and to NATO headquarters in Brussels.
Military officials say it contains no firm targets for troop strength, but it could form the basis for a decision within weeks on future deployments -- a politically fraught calculation that could mark a turning point in Obama's presidency.Cue the Beach Boys music! But remember, O Fellow Americans, that when the Vietnam war got to be a really big deal, in the mid-to-late 1960s, that the U.S. was relatively industrial and relatively prosperous, having a reasonably sound currency that was at least nominally tied to gold. Not so, today. You live in the land of the hollowed-out economy, in which we allegedly become wealthy by lending each other (funny) money, speculating in debt paper, and trading our houses back and forth. You live at the beginning -- and, perforce, near the end -- of what will have to be a brief period of trillion-dollar annual deficits. Remember when the entire cumulative national debt went through the trillion-dollar mark? I do; and it wasn't all that long ago.
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The 103,000 troops under McChrystal's command in Afghanistan include 63,000 Americans, more than half of whom arrived this year as part of an escalation strategy begun under outgoing President George W. Bush and ramped up under Obama. The force is set to rise to 110,000 including 68,000 Americans by year's end.
Since taking command, McChrystal has adjusted the focus of Western forces from hunting down insurgents to trying to protect the Afghan population, borrowing in part from U.S. tactics in Iraq developed under CentCom commander General David Petraeus.
His review is expected to suggest concentrating forces in more heavily populated areas, and also stepping up efforts to train Afghan soldiers and police.
Speculation has swirled about whether McChrystal will conclude he needs still more troops, or whether U.S. commanders and political leaders would give them to him if he does.
But none of that's really important, compared with the vital necessity of making certain that the correct thugs are in charge in Afghanistan, and Waziristan, and Kzyrgistan, and Pakistan, and whatever other 'stans there may be. Remember that it's your proud privilege to continue to underwrite the borrowing of the very last funds available for sending flying robo-death drones, rockets, bombs, bullets -- and your kids! -- to these garden spots, so that unfavored foreigners may be slaughtered, and favored ones installed to rule whoever's left. And then, if you need a laugh -- and I can't imagine why you would -- remember that all this is to secure your freedom!