Afghanistan War devolving into Vietnam Fiasco

October 13, 2009 — by Abhi Venkataramana and Vijay Menon

Since taking to the campaign trail, President Barack Obama has continued to stand steadfastly behind America’s policy in Afghanistan, defending it as a “war of necessity.” However, in light of recent developments, including the resurgence of the Taliban and the corruption-laden re-election of President Hamid Karzai, it is looking more and more like this “war of necessity” is devolving into Obama’s Vietnam.

Obama’s stated objective in Afghanistan is to drive out the forces of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban while establishing a safe and peaceful democracy. However, the newly minted Nobel Peace Prize winner seems to be failing on both accounts, leading many to believe that he is fighting a losing battle.

As Obama struggles to salvage Afghanistan, many politicians fear that he is losing focus on his domestic agenda and jeopardizing ambitious goals. It’s true: The war in Afghanistan is often unfairly credited to Obama while in reality he is simply the unhappy recipient of a dusty heirloom of former President Bush’s grievances. However, America elected Obama to fix the countless errors made by the previous administration. As much as right wing conservatives may enjoy bashing Obama as he continues thumb-twiddling over the issue of American involvement in Afghanistan, it is time to start pulling out.

Despite increased American efforts and the deployment of more troops in the country, the Taliban is still making a resurgence in Afghanistan. To combat this, Obama wants to send 21,000 more troops and to focus more on nation building and implementing an independent Afghan army. All of these things, however, would take approximately five years, cost approximately $20 billion and require more and more troops from America’s already over-pressed army. Furthermore, focusing on nation-building and creating an army, although necessary, would take troops away from the front lines and only exacerbate the problems of the burgeoning Taliban base in Afghanistan.

As the death toll, already at 642, rises, Obama has a difficult choice —support Karzai, despite the blatantly corrupt nature of his election or allow infiltration of the Taliban into Afghanistan’s government once more. Just as America was forced to work with an stubborn and corrupt South Vietnam government during the Vietnam War, America will have to decide whether or not to work with Karzai, or jeopardize the “war of necessity.”

Karzai has failed as a leader, indirectly supporting the Taliban by supporting war lords and drug smugglers. He presides over one of the world’s most corrupt governments. His recent re-election on Aug. 20 was tainted with voter fraud and ballot stuffing. This may be the time to politely wave our caps at Afghanistan and stand as concerned yet reserved spectators as the country continues their struggle to unite internally. If Afghanistan is able to pull together as a nation, presided over by a leader who is actually supported by the public, then America will be more than happy to throw its two cents in.

As Obama vacillates on this decision, he faces a stark reality. His inherited War on Terror is running out of public support and financial capital, making his goals to establish democracy and drive out the Taliban seem unrealistic. In reality, the “war of necessity” may be devolved into anything but.

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