If the generals can be a bit rational, can politicians?
Pentagon study -- US should pare Afghanistan goals
It's not just that some bitter people attack others, it's also that war is enormously profitable. If waging war did not line the pockets of insiders, would we even hear about all the hot spots in the world? The only way to know which wars, if any, are necessary is to make the sacrifice involved touch everybody. The working class may die as soldiers, but investors should not profit and instead even be taxed; that is, dedicate a tax on income above $50k to the military budget. At the same time, pay citizens a dividend from the collected values of land and natural resources (not from buildings and sales). Enjoying that cushion, some might not feel impelled to join the military. This shift of taxing and spending is called geonomics and could help us all see each other as equals and grow more tolerant of differences. Were America to export that model, the world would be a much more peaceful place. Meanwhile, the old stated goals of a current war no longer make sense to those directing it. Will Obama listen to them? This 2009 article is from the Associated Press of Feb 3.
by Robert Burns and Pauline JelinekA classified Pentagon report urges President Barack Obama to shift US military strategy in Afghanistan, de-emphasizing democracy-building and concentrating more on targeting Taliban and al-Qaida sanctuaries inside neighboring Pakistan with the aid of Pakistani military forces.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates has seen the report prepared by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The recommendations are one element of a broad policy reassessment under way to be considered by the White House along with recommendations from the commander Gen. David Petraeus and other officers.
The Joint Chiefs' plan reflects growing worries that the US military was taking on more than it could handle in Afghanistan by pursuing the Bush administration's policy, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the plan publicly.
The recommendations are broadly cast and provide limited detail, meant to help develop the overarching strategy for the Afghanistan-Pakistan region rather than propose a detailed military action plan.
Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman would not comment Tuesday on the details of the Joint Chiefs' report, but acknowledged that the US relationship with Pakistan is a critical component for success in Afghanistan.
Part of the recommended approach is to search for ways to work more intensively and effectively with the Pakistanis, the senior defense official said.
The heightened emphasis on militant havens inside Pakistan reflects a concern outlined by Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen.
But the report does not imply more incursions by US combat forces inside Pakistan or accelerating other forms of US military involvement, the senior defense official emphasized. Pakistani officials have repeatedly raised alarms after a surge of US Hellfire missile strikes from drone predators in recent months, and renewed those complaints after a new strike killed 19 people inside Pakistan days after Obama took office.
A US military official who has operated in Afghanistan said the challenge is to take into account the powerful tribes that resist a strong central government and the ties among ethnic Pashtuns on either side of the Afghan-Pakistan border.
The Joint Chiefs' report advises a greater emphasis on US military training of Pakistani forces. The training efforts also would expand and develop the Afghan army and police force, while at the same time work to improve Afghan governance.
The report also stresses that Afghan strategy must be driven by what the Afghans want, and that the US cannot impose its own goals on the Afghanistan government.
US war planners tried to balance military demands in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Some increasingly questioned why the US continued to maintain a war-fighting force in Iraq, even though the mission there has shifted to a more support role.
Those fighting forces, they argued, were needed in Afghanistan. The US is considering doubling its troop presence there this year to roughly 60,000, in response to growing strength by the Islamic militant Taliban. Several officials believe the president will approve sending three additional combat brigades to Afghanistan, totaling roughly 14,000 troops.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates told armed services committees in Congress bluntly that the military could not root out terrorists while trying to prop up a democracy in Afghanistan.
Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics.
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