A BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
Listening to George Bush's State of the Union, it sure sounded like Iraq is the only battleground in the "war on terror" and that Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan was a resounding success. "We did not drive al Qaeda out of their safe haven in Afghanistan only to let them set up a new safe haven in a free Iraq," Bush said in his case for why we need more troops in Iraq.
But we did not drive al Qaeda out of their safe haven in Afghanistan; we are actually in the process of committing even more troops and money there for that very reason. $10.6 billion and 3,200 more troops, to be exact. Otherwise our progress will "slip away," according to Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
But progress has been slipping for years. BuzzFlash reported last September how badly things were going in Afghanistan, with the Taliban making a deadly return. Just this week it was announced that the Afghan government rejected U.S. interests by refusing to spray the endless poppy fields which produce about 90% of the world's heroin because officials feared a "popular backlash."
It's interesting that Bush has emphasized Iraq as the center of the terror fight for years now while totally ignoring Afghanistan, a place actually tied to the 9/11 attacks and where Osama bin Laden and other terrorist leaders might still be for all we know. Like in Iraq, we were able to invade without too much trouble but have been unable to secure a stable new government with control over the entire nation.
Despite depleted equipment and exhausted soldiers, Bush is now planning to escalate fighting on two different fronts. All of our resources going to Iraq could have been going to Afghanistan, but instead the two ongoing wars are only compounding the shortage problem.
Unlike Iraq, many politicians are generally supportive of the Afghanistan plans. But what is missing is a Sen. Jim Webb-style Democratic response smackdown on Bush for botching things up so badly that an escalation is needed just to retake lost ground. Bush can't even successfully execute a popular war.
With all the fear mongering over terrorism in his State of the Union to explain the importance of Iraq, Bush made a glaring omission by not discussing the true state of Afghanistan. Though he did not lie as bluntly as in his previous speech claiming Saddam tried to get uranium tubes from Africa, his omission of the problems and demands we currently face in Afghanistan is grossly misleading at best.
If Afghanistan was really Mission Accomplished as Bush suggested, we would not need the additional $10.6 billion and 3,200 troops on top of the $14.2 billion already spent and the 24,000 troops already there - the largest since we invaded.
A BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS