October 4, 2009

To War

Tomorrow's headline: To War.

Reports have rounded the media touting the "Battle of Wanat" as a lesson to learn from. Read yesterday and they look like the Pentagon getting its message out. Today they will morph into war cries. 8 US soldiers, one short of the 9 who fell at Wanat, have been killed in a complex ambush on their outpost in the Kamdesh district of Nuristan province, about 10 miles from the Pakistan border and 40 miles from Wanat. The BBC report even compares the battle to Wanat. History has repeated.

Jamaludin Badar, governor of Nuristan province, said he requested more security forces for Kamdesh after operations by the Pakistan military in the Swat valley drove Taliban fighters back across the border and into neighboring Kunar province. He told the AP, "When there are few security forces, this is what happens."

Strap on a gas mask and oxygen tank, there's about to be a firestorm in Washington. Front pages will scream for action. Republicans will lose control. Democrats will panic. The White House has nowhere to hide. Now President Obama is in real trouble with this blood on his hands and could make a statement today. He should if he doesn't, he must address the American people.

But is there any possibility he will pull the plug? No, he will use the battle as justification for more troops. In fact, this battle is a perverse gift to him tailored to his current dilemma, in light of the recent reports on Wanat. This is one disturbing coincidence, but perfectly fitted for Rahm Emanual's motto.

Yet the battle is a bad reason to escalate. America is riding a runaway train - too chaotic, impulsive, reactionary. The election is only going to get worse and the Taliban could be luring America deeper into Afghanistan, provoking Obama to send more troops or withdraw. They've dumped enormous pressure on him and Congress, the Pentagon, and the media are about to multiply it. The horns sound, the drums beat louder.

Today is a sad today, but an obvious day. The game is over. White House officials can keep talking strategies, reviews, insisting no decisions have been made, but America won't be leaving Afghanistan any time soon.

UPDATE: 10/6/2009: Confirmed.

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