Maybe They Can't Do It -- Even When You Give Them What They Ask For UPDATE

The military spin- down from President Obama's Afghan decision to give them what General McChrystal asked for is sobering to watch.According to the NYTimes, "General Rodriguez did not back away from [Obama's] timeline, saying that all of the additional troops would be in Afghanistan within 9 to 11 months. But he spoke in some of the bluntest terms yet about the difficulties in achieving that goal. 'Theres lots of risks in here, but were going to try to get them in as fast as we can,' he said in an interview at his heavily fortified headquarters. 'Theres a lot of things that have to line up perfectly.'"A central tenet of Mr. Obamas revised strategy for Afghanistan is to knock the Taliban on their heels with a wave of American forces, providing security and buying time for the Afghan Army and the national police to train and take over security duties."http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/15/world/asia/15mullen.html?_r=1&ref=worldAdd to that President Karzai's announcement that Afghanistan will not have the financial resources to pay for its own security until 2024. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/09/world/asia/09gates.html?scp=2&sq=Karzai&st=cseUPDATE: This story in the Washington Post underlines a point made in the comments here: It just isn't the military who are going, but the contractors as well. "The surge of 30,000 U.S. troops into Afghanistan could be accompanied by a surge of up to 56,000 contractors, vastly expanding the presence of personnel from the U.S. private sector in a war zone, according to a study by the Congressional Research Service.

"CRS, which provides background information to members of Congress on a bipartisan basis, said it expects an additional 26,000 to 56,000 contractors to be sent to Afghanistan. That would bring the number of contractors in the country to anywhere from 130,000 to 160,000." http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/15/AR2009121504850.html

Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages.

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