Leaders stop and consider

As many officials in politics are celebrating the stabilization of Iraq as a nation of democratic thought in a region that has no democracy many have turned their attention to what is poised to be “the next war.”

Afghanistan, a small central Asian country that has seen war come and go and come again throughout history, is poised to be the next sight of American military bloodletting and the current administration seems to be having second thoughts.

Most in the military establishment, the current ground forces commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal included, have called for as many as 40,000 more troops to be deployed almost immediately to the theater of operations.

In contrast the president along with his foreign advisors seem to have backed off of what seemed to have been a liberal rallying cry during the election to “Take the war back to where it should be,” by refocusing the war effort on Afghanistan and destroying al qaeda. The rabid attacks on the previous administration for diverting the war effort to Iraq might well be on point but he ring hollow now that Obama is no longer a “yes we can” man and is now a “crap we have to do this for real guy.”

Conservative commentator George Will is among a group of voices who have been advocating a more surgical approach to Afghanistan that have been leaning on lessons from the past and point to the experience of the now defunct Soviet Union’s experience in Afghanistan during the entire decade of the 1980s.

The last great superpower to set foot in the rugged surroundings of Afghanistan saw 14,000 dead as well as more than 550,000 injured or sick soldiers during their occupation from 1979 to 1989 and sapped the public will to support any future misadventures abroad. As this took place the soviet economy continued to struggle and eventually collapse along with their government.

While the United States military is more technically advanced than the Soviet war machine in just about every aspect of warfare the great equalizer will be the mountains themselves. The kind of fighting that will win this war, will be fought by soldiers climbing their way through the same mountains that claimed the lives of soviet men more than 30 years ago. There will be no awesome assortment of armor and heavy equipment to support them.

Hopefully the president and his team will think long and hard about what they are committing the nation to before we get ourselves in further than we really want to be and experience this generation’s Vietnam with an unwinnable quagmire.

The views expressed in the Review’s View are those of the Washburn Review editorial board, and not necessarily the views of Washburn University.