The president is about to meet with the National Security Council on Afghanistan. He has been successfully painted into a corner by the right and the left. The right wants him to go with the leaked General McChrystal report asking for forty thousand more troops and the left sees another Vietnam and wants the United States to get out of the country.
The problem, as one State Department hand told me, is that in 2001 immediately following the 9/11 attacks we "did Afghanistan on the cheap." We got the war lords to do our bidding for our war and it only made them stronger. President Karzai might as well be the Mayor of Kabul because so much of the country is either run by the warlords or has given way back to the Taliban. If there ever was a time to have a heavy troop engagement it was in 2001-2002 and we missed that opportunity.
Even if we had put in the same kind of troop commitment that we put in Iraq there is the question about whether the United States would be willing to be as brutal and corrupt as the Russians were in the 1980s. The Russians took all the gloves off and they still did not win. The question is not how many troops it will take to win in Afghanistan but if we are willing to do anything to win and whether that would fit with the moral standards of the U.S. military.
An additional problem is that the bombing attacks the U.S. is currently conducting in Afghanistan are making the civilians flee over the border -- to Pakistan. This is just creating more enemies for us -- allowing people to hide out among the local and sympathetic people in Pakistan's tribal areas and then serve as a base to destabilize Pakistan. Pakistan has a nuclear bomb and if the government there falls into the wrong hands it will make our problems with Iran look like a walk on the beach.
There is only one way to go with Afghanistan and that is to begin to fund and support the rebuilding of the country. We must win their hearts and minds. We must develop benchmarks for progress. The Afghan people turned to the warlords and the Taliban for stability. They will work with and help whichever side provides it. More troops and bombings will only destabilize the area. The only investment that makes sense is security, schools and hospitals. Everything else is just throwing money and tossing the U.S. military, our precious resource, down a rat hole.
Ellen Ratner is the Washington Bureau Chief for Talk Radio News Service and a FOX News contributor.
Ellen Ratner joined Fox News Channel as a contributor in October 1997. Currently, Ratner serves as chief political correspondent and news analyst for "Talk Radio News Service" where she analyzes events, reports breaking news, and provides lively interviews with newsmakers in government and entertainment. She is founder of "Goats for the Old Goat." Over the last three years, donations have been made to acquire goats for liberated slaves who were returning to South Sudan. More than 7,000 goats have been donated to the people of South Sudan to provide sustainable sustenance for their families and a means to begin their lives again.