Have you ever had a friend or relative who was a junkie? You know what it's like, watching them go steadily downhill. You've heard the speeches about how they're going to move, get a new job and start over so many times, you can repeat it in your sleep. But eventually you understand that you're dealing with an addict, and you just have to detach and let the horrors play out - because there's not a damned thing you can do to stop it.
That's how I feel about this war. War is the needle in the arm of our national leadership:
KABUL -- Days after President Obama outlines his new war strategy in a speech Tuesday, as many as 9,000 Marines will begin final preparations to deploy to southern Afghanistan and renew an assault on a Taliban stronghold that slowed this year amid a troop shortage and political pressure from the Afghan government, senior U.S. officials said.
The extra Marines will be the first to move into the country as part of Obama's escalation of the eight-year-old war. They will double the size of the U.S. force in the southern province of Helmand and will provide a critical test for Afghan President Hamid Karzai's struggling government and Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal's counterinsurgency strategy.
"The first troops out of the door are going to be Marines," Gen. James T. Conway, the Corps' top officer, told fellow Marines in Afghanistan on Saturday. "We've been leaning forward in anticipation of a decision. And we've got some pretty stiff fighting coming."
The Marines will be quickly followed by about 1,000 U.S. Army trainers. They will deploy as early as February to speed the growth of the Afghan army and police force, military officials said.
The new forces will not start moving until Obama outlines his new strategy in a speech at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. The revised plan, which faces a war-weary and increasingly skeptical American public, is expected to call for 30,000 to 35,000 new troops in a phased deployment over the next 12 to 18 months.
The parceling-out of reinforcements is driven in part by Afghanistan's lack of infrastructure, which cannot immediately support a larger U.S. force. The phased approach will also allow the president to cancel some of the additional reinforcements if the counterinsurgency strategy advocated by McChrystal, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, does not show results or if the Karzai government does not meet goals for stamping out corruption and providing for the Afghan people, White House officials said.
Now, what do you suppose the odds are of that happening?