Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Max Boot is for Max War

Max Boot has an Op-Ed in the NY Times, in which he writes glowing reviews of the results that can be achieved with higher troop levels.

“I HOPE people who say this war is unwinnable see stories like this. This is what winning in a counterinsurgency looks like.”

Lt. Col. William F. McCollough, commander of the First Battalion, Fifth Marine Regiment, is walking me around the center of Nawa, a poor, rural district in southern Afghanistan’s strategically vital Helmand River Valley. His Marines, who now number more than 1,000, arrived in June to clear out the Taliban stronghold. Two weeks of hard fighting killed two Marines and wounded 70 more but drove out the insurgents. Since then the colonel’s men, working with 400 Afghan soldiers and 100 policemen, have established a “security bubble” around Nawa

Well, this certainly sounded promising on the surface. I figured I'd better check out Boots numbers.

Here's what I found. Nawa is a town of about 30,000 people.According to Boot, there are 1500 hundred combined troops there, and that has been sufficient to secure the town.

But obviously, our "mission" in Afghanistan, though no one seems able to explain what it is, is most certainly not to just secure the small town of Nawa. So let's extrapolate those numbers and see what it would take to secure the province of Helmund, where Nawa is located.

Helmand has 1.4 million people. Using the same population troop ratio, we would need 46,000 US troops and 23,000 Afghan personnel.

Of course, Helmand is but one of 34 Afghan provinces. The 34 provinces comprise around 28 million people. Using the same ratio, we could secure the country with a mere 933,000 US troops, and 465,000 Afghans.

Now, in case you haven't been paying attention, last year we had 32,000 troops there. Now we have 68,000 troops there. The majority of Americans don't want to send even the 40,000 more that Gen. McChrystal is requesting.

And here comes Max Boot to assure us that we can win this thing-we just need to have a million US troops over there.

And what would we get from this insane escalation?

Only by sending more personnel, military and civilian, can President Obama improve the Afghan government’s performance, reverse the Taliban’s gains and prevent Al Qaeda’s allies from regaining the ground they lost after 9/11.

Let's talk about these reasons.

Are we going to mobilize a million troops so that we can improve Afghanistan's government? Is this really a reason? Why don't we try to improve our own, first.

Reverse the Taliban's gains? They're not generally nice people, but the Taliban is not a threat to the United States. They're an affront the concept of universal civil rights, but they are not trying to destroy America. They just don't want Americans interfering.

Prevent Al Qaeda's allied from regaining ground?

There are less than 100 Al Quaeda left in Afghanistan. They are not a threat to the United States. Their allies (I assume he means the Taliban) already control 40 percent of the country, and have for quite some time. If Taliban control was going to ineveitably result in terror attacks by Al Quaeda, it would have happened already.

These reasons are horse shit, and yet the war machine grinds on.

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