Saturday, October 11, 2008
One of the big criticisms that McCain has used to attack Barack Obama has to do with Obama's willingness to talk with America's enemies. They believe that it's naive for Obama to talk to an enemy without a long list of demands that the adversary must agree to before even sitting down at the table (you would think that the reason for talking would be to negotiate many of the contentious issues, so how can you make a laundry list of demands before negotiations even start?). The McCain/Republican Party philosophy is to not talk to enemies at all if they don't have to.... but to attack them instead. One of the major figures that McCain likes to throw in Obama's face every chance he gets is General David Petraeus, as if Patraeus is one of their puppets.
But this week, General Patraeus smacked down the McCain argument, saying instead that the U.S. should talk to its enemies. He mentioned that the U.S. should be open to talking to the Taliban in particular. This completely undercuts what McCain has been saying for the past 2 months on the campaign trail and it pretty much wrecks his entire line of criticism of Obama on that issue. Patraeus, The new commander of Centcom and former top General in Iraq, is responsible for formulating a plan for turning Afghanistan around.
Meanwhile, a new National Intelligence Estimate (or NIE) indicates that the situation in Afghanistan continues to deteriorate. In fact, the situation there is now described as a "downward spiral". NATO and the U.S. in particular, doesn't have the manpower needed to fulfill the mission. The drug trade (poppy farming) makes up at least 50% of the Afghan economy. I have been warning on this blog for the past two years that the problem with the drug trade would undercut other efforts in Afghanistan. The U.S., Europe and the UN failed to establish an alternative Afghan economy after the fall of the Taliban. They failed to create jobs and investment there. This led to a situation where people fell back to what they were doing before to survive- Poppy farming, and the criminal activity surrounding it (warlords earning protection money, smuggling, bribery, intimidation, government corruption, etc). The money generated by the drug trade funds the Talibans activities.