Can Obama resist the Pentagon?


More than 1,000 Afghans civilians have been killed so far this year, 24 per cent more than in 2008 and 50 per cent more than 2007. Although the Taliban cause the majority of civilian casualties, air strikes still kill hundreds and occasion far more outrage and attention.

Meanwhile, 289 foreign soldiers – including 21 Canadians – have been killed to date in 2009. Casualties are up 50 per cent over last year and roughly five times the levels in 2004. No one keeps track of Taliban deaths, but the number is believed to be in the thousands.

Hundreds of Afghan government soldiers and police have also been killed so far this year as the vast influx of U.S. troops have turned all of southern Afghanistan into a battleground.

And now, because the war is going so badly there’s a call for at least another 20,000 soldiers. This after the “surge” that sent 35,000 American soldiers to put down the internecine conflict that apparently would have spun the country into civil war. There were many who saw this as a beginning to even greater escalation. With the additional troops the West will have as many troops in Afghanistan as the Soviets did at the height of their conflict. A few years ago people who compared this war to Vietnam were dismissed as alarmist. No more.

So now the question is whether or not Obama can stand up to the Pentagon. Because, always, the Pentagon’s solution is bigger guns wielded my more soldiers. And if no other solution is found you can bet, if the Harper government is still in power, the deadline of withdrawing Canadian troops in 2011 will be extended.


  1. Can Obama stand up to the pentagon? My answer, respectfully is “NO”. The real question is if he ever intended to; which I say he didn’t. This is Obama’s war now. He took the bait from Bush and campaigned on early withdrawal from Iraq to concentrate on Afghanistan. I have great confidence in the Generals and none in Obama to make the best decision. He has made substantial cuts in budget items that are in the long run essential to success, and those cuts are a drop in the bucket to the economy as a whole. He and Rahm want a national draft because they want to socialize the entire government which is command and or war time economy ( central planning). This is the “Progressive” solution. Funny it is the same as the Bush solution but Obama can’t trust it for reelection.

  2. I’m with Tom – I don’t think Obama ever intended to “resist the Pentagon” on Afghanistan. He is American after all, serving what he perceives to be the best interests of the Americans. But what should be done about the Taliban? Should they be allowed to foster 9/11 killers? Should they be allowed to prevent women from getting an education?

  3. There is a small Quaker meeting house in my home town. Early on in this conflict, a few bumper stickers and lawn signs began showing up. On these signs are an emblem of a dove and the words … War is not the answer.

    I agreed with them then. I agree even more with them now. I say this as an American and a Viet Nam era military veteran though I feel confident that my opinion is no concern of either the President or the Pentagon.

    What, then, is the answer?

    There is only one. It is a simple answer. However, the antithesis of war is not easily acheived.

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