In the second part of CBS News' sit down with anchor Katie Couric, the conversation will switch to matters abroad, including the ongoing conflict on Afghanistan. Palin's obviously been well coached in the nuances of McCain foreign policy! At least well enough to deploy the term "Surge" whenever you don't have a cogent strategy to suggest.
COURIC: Why is it much more challenging there? Can you explain that?
PALIN: The logistics that we are already suggesting here, not having enough troops in the area right now. The... things like the terrain even in Afghanistan and that border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, where, you know, we believe that-- Bin Laden is-- is hiding out right now and... and is still such a leader of this terrorist movement. There... there are many more challenges there. So, again, I believe that... a surge in Afghanistan also will lead us to victory there as it has proven to have done in Iraq. And as I say, Katie, that we cannot afford to retreat, to withdraw in Iraq. That's not gonna get us any better off in Afghanistan either. And as our leaders are telling us in our military, we do need to ramp it up in Afghanistan, counting on our friends and allies to assist with us there because these terrorists who hate America, they hate what we stand for with the... the freedoms, the democracy, the... the women's rights, the tolerance, they hate what it is that we represent and our allies, too, and our friends, what they represent. If we were... were to allow a stronghold to be captured by these terrorists then the world is in even greater peril than it is today. We cannot afford to lose in Afghanistan.
Oooh, that rascally bin Laden! Still such a leader of terrorists! Well, here's the problem with an Afghanistan "surge": Defense Secretary Robert Gates has already said that such a move isn't going to happen until the spring or summer of 2009, at the earliest:
Gates said that despite a growing insurgency in Afghanistan, fueled by fighters from Pakistan, the spring of 2009 is the earliest the Pentagon would be able to send as many as three more U.S. combat brigades there to meet a request of American commanders for about 10,000 more troops.
"I believe we will be able to meet that commanders' requirement, but in the spring and summer of 2009," Gates said.
Naturally, one wonders where these troops are going to come from, if not from Iraq, where John McCain intends to leave them. But the impossible timing of an Afghanistan "surge" doesn't simply point up the fact that Sarah Palin is on teevee writing checks our military can't cash -- it demonstrates that Bush foreign policy has put us on terrible footing militarily, unable to respond to pressing needs. And in Afghanistan, the need may come long before the spring of 2009. Spencer Ackerman, who recently went to Afghanistan because he could not see the country from his front yard, reports on warnings that the Taliban are poised for an unprecedented escalation of the conflict:
U.S. military officials are warning that intelligence now indicates that the Taliban-led insurgency in Afghanistan plans to launch major operations this winter. While those officials publicly claim they're prepared for a winter offensive, it would place U.S. counterinsurgency efforts in unfamiliar territory, with little precedent to guide them. It would likely entail a major escalation of insurgent aggression to cap off what has already been the bloodiest year for the U.S. military in the seven-year war.
Winter offensives run counter to established patterns in the Afghan insurgency.
"The more active forms of combat, with the exception of mining roads, were conducted in the spring and summer," reads the Russian General Staff's definitive official history of the defeat of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, recently translated by Lester W. Grau of the U.S. Army's Combined Arms Center at Ft. Leavenworth, Kan. "This can be explained by the fact that the majority of mountain passes used by the caravans are closed in the winter. ... Besides that, the heavy snow cover in the mountains during the fall and winter forced the Mujaheddin down into the valleys and spread them out throughout the peaceful population."
Now, however, Afghan insurgents are expected to rewrite the script. Days ago, Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Schloesser, commander of U.S. forces in eastern Afghanistan, warned, "The insurgents are attempting to remain in numbers in Afghanistan over the winter."
So, in short, Palin is correct in her contention that Afghanistan is in need of some U.S. reinforcements. Unfortunately for her, she's saddled up with the people who have dug this hole in the first place, and handed her a shovel.