Sometimes it's just flat-out funny to watch the Bush administration spin when it comes to military operations. The New York Times reported this weekend that the U.S. could see a surge of troops into Afghanistan. Surely, groups like VoteVets.org have to be happy with that, right? I mean, since our inception in 2006, we've put a top priority on taking Afghanistan more seriously.
Except, this isn't a "surge," it's caulk. You know, the stuff you use to fill the gaps.
Here's why. Our NATO allies are slowly pulling out of Afghanistan, leaving forces short. Even as the Bush administration begged them to send more troops, our allies promised a couple of thousand, on a very short term basis. That's a heck of a lot less than the 7,000 we were asking for. Not only that, but those who did promise more troops are planning to pull out completely later this year, or early next year.
So, we're just making up the shortfall. And yet, the administration seems to be pushing the line that the US, after the Afghanistan surge, will have the highest number of US forces there -- 40,000 -- since the initial invasion. Of course it will represent the highest number of US troops -- it has to, now that our allies are bailing. In reality, it's just a wash.
The fact of the matter is that until we begin to take our global alliances seriously again, until we make it politically popular for world leaders to work with the US again, we'll continue to bleed aid from foreign nations in our global commitments. It's not just Iraq, either (though that seems to be the main thing that's made the US so unpopular around the world). It's not making a serious commitment to combating global warming. It's a lack of commitment to human rights and the Geneva Conventions. It's beating other nations over the head saying, "You're either with us or against us," but using real diplomacy with our allies and foes, to convince them that our fight is their fight too.
To continue down that Bush course, as John McCain seems to want to do, means further alienation of our allies. That means they'll continue to leave our side. And that means that not just in Afghanistan, but any other security crisis down the road, we'll be on our own.
There's not enough caulk in our arsenal to handle that.