Thursday, December 31, 2009

Tehran Violence

Apologies for my lack of posts lately. I have had a hectic week. Its been just been one party after another since Christmas. Iran is the big story I have missed. Since the death of Ayatollah Montazeri last week violence has flared up big time in Tehran for the first time since the disputed June election. At least 15 are dead and there are some spectacular rumours flying about the place. I will do a detailed post about the crisis, the stability of the regime and what Obama should do in the next day of two. In the meantime, observe some of the footage that illustrates the extreme brutality that the regime is prepared to make in dealing with the demonstrators.

Below is a horrifying clip of the scum bag Basij Tehran Police driving over a protester.

And below is the astonishing scene in a Tehran street when demonstrators surround the Basij militia and ultimately disarm some of them. This clip really demonstrates to me the contempt with which the Basij are held.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Christmas

I want to wish all my readers a very happy Christmas. But in particular I would like to wish it to the more than 750 members of the Defence Forces, or Óglaigh na h-Eireann that are serving overseas this Christmas. There are currently two hundred and forth-three troops serving in Kosovo while 43 are in Bosnia. There are a further four hundred and twenty-one troops helping to keep the peace in Chad. There are also smaller forces serving in the Lebanon, Ivory Coast, the DR Congo, Western Sahara and Afghanistan. To all these men and women I wish them a very happy Christmas and a safe return home.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Dubai Fall Out Could Affect Iran

I came across a very interesting piece in Newsweek recently about the possible fall out that the financial crisis in Dubai might have on the Iranian nuclear issue. This perked my interest particularly because as my readers know I have lived in Dubai and still have a deep interest in what happens there for personal and political reasons. My readers also know that the fate of Iran is probably my favourite issue to debate having spent a significant amount of time in that country preparing for my dissertation. But most of all, Iran, its fate and the conclusion of the nuclear issue is the number one political issue facing the Gubu World that we live in today. The story is as follows.

When I lived in the UAE I became aware of the following facts. Only about %20 of the populations of Dubai and Abu Dhabi (the 2 most prominent of the 7 Arab Emirates) consist of indigenous Arabs, known as Emiratis. These people are exceptionally privileged. Also there has always been a great deal of tension between the two rival families in charge of both Emirates, these being the Maktoums in Dubai and the Zayed's in Abu Dhabi. They were in fact killing each other up until the modern UAE was formed under the leadership of the late Sheik Zayed in 1971. It should be stressed however that the UAE is a stable country and the experiment of the Arab federation ruled from the Capital in Abu Dhabi but with significant autonomy for the 6 other Emirats has proven to be a success. Having said that, one source of the tension between the two is that a large percentage, possibly as high as %25, of Dubai Emiratis are in fact of a Persian background, owing to the fact that in the 19th century many Iranian traders with Dubai ended up settling there. A consequence of this is that Dubai and its Persian Emiratis, many of whom speak Farsi as a first language, is the most Pro Iranian entity in the Arabian Gulf. This has caused tension with Abu Dhabi particularly because the islands of Abu Musa, Greater Tunb and Lesser Tunb are occupied by Iran but claimed by the UAE. However Dubai does not control its own foreign policy so its pro Iranian leanings manifests itself in its business dealings.

The UAE is a federal country. However unlike other federal countries like the USA there are few federal laws and the Emirates are free to govern themselves when it comes to everything except foreign policy. However, this may be set to change dramatically with the recent news that Dubai World, Dubai's flagship company is unable to meet its debts. International investors were stunned and held their breath for a few days until oil rich Abu Dhabi announced that it would come to Dubai's aid. However it was clear to all who understand the UAE that if Abu Dhabi are going to bail Dubai out of their massive debt, they are going to do so on their terms. One such term will likely be that Abu Dhabi will have a greater say in who Dubai does business with. This could be hugely significant when it comes to imposing sanctions on Iran over the nuclear issue. In particular it could have a dramatic effect on the attempts by Stuart Levey the US undersecretary of the Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence, and the focus of the aforementioned Newsweek article, to reign in the finances of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps IRGC. Many senior IRCG members have assets in Dubai as do other officials in the regime who see Dubai as a safe and friendly place to keep money, away from the reach of international sanctions. At an utterly crucial time in the Islamic Republic, When the IRGC may be required to suppress dissenters and possibly ultimately even the Iranian Army itself the Revolutionary Guards and other loyalist might find themselves being squeezed financially.

This story becomes all the more important with the recent death of reformist cleric Grand Ayatollah Montzeri whose funeral today has apparently sparked clashes.
This is the scene in Qom today where the spiritual leader of the reformist movement, Ayatollah Montazeri was buried. Might his death lead to a renewal of clashes between reformers and the Basij militia.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

70 Years Ago Today 17/12/39

Finland: The Finnish government have announced that the army have smashed two Russian divisions, taken 36,000 Red Army soldiers prisoner and have a further 20,000 surrounded.

Western Front: An increase in German reconnaissance flights is reported.

Liverpool: The first contingent of Canadian troops arrive in Britain since the war began. 7,400 troops of the First Canadian Division have arrived on five converted ocean liners.

London: The admiralty announced that 61 sailors were killed on board HMS Exeter during the previous days battle of the river plate with the German battleship Admiral Graf Spree

Montevideo: The harbour is like a football stadium as thousands of civilians gather at the port to observe the next step of the German battleship Admiral Graff spree. It was damaged earlier in the week during the The Battle of the River Plate and made its way to the Uruguayan capital Montevideo. A drama ensued as the Graf Spree was granted permission by neutral Uruguay to dock for 24 hours which was extended to 72 to allow for repairs. In the meantime the British light cruisers HMS Ajax and HMS Achilles wait outside the Port along with the more powerful HMS Cumberland which replaced the HMS Exeter which was severely damaged during the recent battle and had to limp back to the Falkans. The whole world is waiting to see what Captain Hans Langsdorff of the Graf Spree will do. One option is to fight his way out but fearing it would be a futile battle that could lead to the deaths of his 1200 crew he opts instead to scuttle her. On this day 70 Years ago the huge crowds that the throng the harbour walls watch as the German crew board their lifeboats and row toward shore. Shortly afterward a massive explosion rocks the harbour and the Admiral Graff Spree begins to sink. It is a huge victory for the Royal Navy.

The Admiral Graff Spree sinking just outside Montevideo harbour. Today, a part of the German battleship is still visible above water.

Incidentally, followers of Gubu World will know that I am compiling my Greatest War Movies List . The 1956 classic The Battle of the River Plate starring Anthony Quayle details the entire Graff Spree story and is well worth a look. It wont make it into my top ten but it didn't miss out by much.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Swiss Minaret Ban

I got back from Switzerland on Monday night so I thought it appropriate to do something on the recent Muslim Minaret controversy. The posters from the November 29th referendum were still visible over the weekend as I walked around Baden and Zurich. These images which were mounted on every street corner in Switzerland in the weeks before the referendum caused outrage among its opponents who claimed that the right wing anti immigration element in Swiss politics were using scare tactics to get their way. It is in any event a very interesting debate, one which requires further discussion.

There have been a handful of disputes in Switzerland since 2005 between Muslim groups attempting to build minarets attached to their mosques and local residents. However it soon developed into a highly charged political issue symbolising the growing concern at the high level of Muslim immigration into Switzerland. Between 2006 and 2008 two conservative parties in Switzerland, the Swiss People's Party and the Federal Democratic Union made several attempts to ban minarets in local districts or cantons. None of these attempts succeeded mainly because the cantons operated in a way that meant such a decision would be unconstitutional at a local level and could not be voted on by the people. When the parties failed at this they decided to aim higher and launched a federal initiative to amend the Swiss constitution itself by simply placing the words "The building of minarets is prohibited" into article 72. 100,000 signatures were collected which was required for a constitutional referendum and on the 29 of November it was put to the people. The campaign was contentious. The Swiss government and Parliament opposed the ban and recommended by 129 to 50 votes in spring of 2009 that the Swiss people reject the referendum. Religious organisations felt likewise as did the Trade Unions. However the people felt differently and approved the ban by %57.5.

I personally have mixed feeling about it. If I were Swiss, I found myself thinking, how would I have voted ?

My reasons in favor

1. There is an issue in Europe with our Muslim populations. It barely exists in Ireland so we could be forgiven for not noticing it but anyone who denies it outright is a fool. In recent years Muslim fanatics have murdered people like Dutch filmmaker Theogh Van Geogh for making a documentary, which he was perfectly correct in doing, on violence against women in Islam. They have issued death threats and attempted to murder many others such as Salman Rushdie and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the courageous Dutch Citizen from Somalia who has spoken out about the treatment of women in Islam. They have rioted in France and Sweden and called for all out war with Denmark over the cartoon fiasco. They have set off bombs that have killed 60 people in London and 190 in Madrid.

2. There is a minority of conservative Muslims who hate Europe, not because of Iraq, Palestine or Afghanistan but because Europe is liberal and they hate liberal societies. There is a minority within this minority who are willing to take violent action against these societies.

3. It was argued during the campaign by the Yes side that the Minaret is not that important in Islam. It is not mentioned once in the Koran. It was argued that the minaret is far more a symbol of religious-political power claim. I frankly agree. I think minarets are about Muslims making a statement saying, we are here. The sky line of a city says a lot about it. I know that Ireland's Muslim population have integrated exceptionally well into this country but I still would not like to see Muslim minarets dominate the sky line of the city. I simply think it would be inappropriate for a symbol of a foreign religion to share the stature of liberty hall (even though its an unforgivably ugly building) or the spire (even though I still don't understand its purpose).

You may wonder, well, what have points 1 & 2 got to do with Swiss minarets ? Nothing I suppose except they do indicate the greater influence of Islam in Europe and I think this is something that should be halted. Islam is not just a religion it is a political philosophy and as a result I am entitled to criticise it harshly as I would any other I disagreed with. As a political philosophy it is inherently undemocratic (if you need proof just ask yourself, why of the 40 Muslim nations in the world, are virtually none of them democratic) as it does not respect the right of the individual to be non conformist. Islam makes it clear that if there are those in society that are not sufficiently adherent to Islamic principles then this reflects bad on the society as a whole and action must be taken. In some parts of the Islamic worlds this is taken to the extreme. I am not suggesting that Europe's Muslims have such an agenda but it is conceivable that areas so heavily populated by Muslims such as in Britain and France are perceived by its inhabitants as Muslim areas entitled to be governed by Muslim laws. This could lead to an exceptionally troubling situation.

My reasons against the ban

1. There are only four minarets in Switzerland and I have heard no indication of a radical element among Swiss Muslims unlike Britain or France. In fact most Swiss Muslims are of Turkish background and not particularly devout.

2.The posters were I believe provocative. I don't like sensationalism in politics and the poster illustrating the minarets like missiles protruding through the Swiss flag were designed to be alarmist.

3. It is worth pointing out that other religious domination's opposed the minaret ban including organisations representing the Swiss Jewish community who rightly pointed out that they would be outraged if the construction of Synagogues were banned or limited.

4. The fact that minarets in Switzerland have been made illegal under the Swiss constitution strikes me as excessive. Whatever about a city council or a district implementing a ban, but for them to be made unconstitutional, something which is usually reserved for a crime or a violation of individual rights is a bit much in my opinion and I can understand why Muslims might be offended.

I also can't resist making the point that the conservative blogs have not discussed this issue. Mainly because it flies in the face of their theory that liberal and morally bankrupt Europe is allowing Muslims to literally take over their countries and are too week to do anything about it. A theory that I have long been stating is the right wing equivalent of "the world trade center was brought down by a controlled explosion". In other words, its too absurd to discuss.

If I were Swiss I believe I would have voted against the ban because my conscience would not have allowed me to vote for a referendum which makes a religious symbol unconstitutional even though I must confess, I liked the result of the referendum. Confused ? You should be. The truth is if I were Swiss I would be resisting the building of minarets and perhaps supporting action at a local level. But a constitutional change is excessive, particularly given the few reported problems in Switzerland.

70 Years Ago Today 16/12/39

Rome: Count Galeazzo Ciano, Italy's foreign minister and Mussolini's Son in Law attacks Russia in a speech to the fascist assembly.

Helsinki: It is being reported that the mobile Finnish Army operating on skis and in camouflaged clothing are inflicting devastating casualties on the Red Army.

Uruguay: The massive German battleship Admiral Graf Spree has sought refuge in Montevideo harbour the day after the Battle of River Plate in which ferocious fire was exchanged between the Graf Spree and British cruisers Exeter, Ajax and Achilles . Neutral Uruguay has allowed the Graf Spree to remain in the harbour for 24 hours in accordance with International law. The three British ships are waiting outside the harbour to engage the German ship once it emerges. This incident has captured the attention of the world as international media flock to Montevideo to cover the story.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Gubu World going to Switzerland

I am going to Switzerland today along with the entire Leddy family to celebrate my eldest brother Feargal's 40th birthday. Parents, siblings, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends and grandkids are all making the trip to Zurich to visit the brother, his partner and baby son who moved over there two years ago. As a result there will be no posts on Gubu World until Tuesday but in the highly unlikely event that you are intererested you can follow me on my twitter page. I am also conscious that I have not done a post outlining my firm views on Obama's Afghan surge. This has been due to indecision on my part. I simply haven't decided yet whether I support his plan. However I do intend to have some interesting discussions over the weekend with my anti war brother and conservative father which will I'm sure enlighten and inspire me to come up with a concrete stance.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

70 Years Ago Today 9/12/39

France: On this day 70 Years ago the British Army suffered its first fatal casualty on the western front. Corporal Thomas Priday of the Kings Shropshire Light Infantry, was killed in a skirmish with German soldiers.

Also on the Western front King George V1 completes a five day inspection of British and French troops.

Moscow: The Soviet government accuses Italy of sending weapons to Finland via Germany.

Poland: 1,400 out of 1,800 Jews are murdered by the Nazis during a forced march across the country.

Helsinki: Bad weather has brought a temporary cessation to Soviet air raids on the Finnish capital which caused such devastation in the first few days of the war between Finland and the Soviet Union.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Ted Kennedy's Memoirs

I have just finished reading Ted Kennedy's memoir True Compass, which was completed only weeks before he died. It was a fascinating read. He has written many books before on political issues but never has he so openly and honestly talked about his own life which had so many highs and lows. He goes through it all: the privileged childhood, the Harvard screw up, JFK 1960, the assassinations, Chappaquiddick, the senate, Jimmy Carter, its all there. I would recommend this book to anyone, even my conservative American readers who couldn't stand him. His life story is like reading a chronology of recent world history. He even writes clearly about his memories of living in London at the out break of the second World War where his father was posted as US ambassador to Britain. I also found it refreshing how he viewed the second World War not as a chapter in world history but as a personal tragedy in which he lost his own brother. He has his own personal angle of so many historical events but what makes it so interesting is that its usually from close up and sometimes from right in the center. The 1950's red scare, his brothers presidential campaign, the Vietnam war, Watergate, the Regan, Clinton and Bush years were all eras that he witnessed first hand and often played key roles in.

More than anything though this is a personal book about his life. He frequently reiterates that the tragedies in his life are no greater than those experienced by most large families. Quite a statement considering how by aged 36 he had buried four siblings. Not to mention the fatal plane and car crashes he was in. His relationship with his family is the best thing about this book. There was the complicated relationship he had with his highly driven yet sentimental father as well as his devout mother who died in 1995 aged 105. He goes into detail about his relationship with Bobby and Jack and his personal account of their deaths is intense. He writes frankly about his two marriages, one successful, the other less so. Then there is his children, two of whom barely survived cancer. It all makes for a very special read and one of those rare books that you can't put down. What makes it all so poignant is that it was written in the final months of his life when he knew he was dying. Its philosophical style in this respect is very thought provoking which I suppose is the point. I would give this book 8 out of 10.

Incidentally I have decided to review more books on Gubu world. I will try post one book review per week as I have read many over the last year.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Greatest war movie no 5: A Bridge Too Far

Let me first point out that this list of war movies I'm compiling is not the definitive greatest war movies of all time. Its my list of my favorite war movies. The reason I am making this point is because Richard Attenborough's 1977 classic A Bridge Too Far crashed at the box office. This despite an unbelievable all star cast of Sean Connery, Michael Caine, Gene Hackman, Robert Redford, Anthony Hopkins, James Caan, Ryan O'Neil, Elliot Gould, Dirk Bogard, Laurence Olivier, Edward fox and Denholm Elliot. The reason it crashed was probably because Attenborough methodically recreated the famous 1944 battle for Holland, code named Operation Market Garden, with historical accuracy that was almost documentary like, the only problem was that this proved to be boring to a wider audience. Not me though, as far as I'm concerned this movie has it all but what really pushes into the list for me is the topic itself. I have always been fascinated by this battle. I have read countless books on it and in 2004 while in the Netherlands I took a trip to Arnhem to view the battle site. I think a little historical back ground is probably required at this stage.

Operation Market Garden
It was September 1944, three months after D-Day. The Allies had won in Normandy and Paris had been liberated. The Germans had been pushed back into Eastern France and Northern Belgium. The question facing the allies now was, whats the next step ? Where do we land the next major blow against German forces in Western Europe. The Americans wanted General Eisenhower to divert all resources to General Patton's Third Army so that he could continue his race across France and punch straight through into Germany. The British had a different idea. Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery had a plan to drop 35,000 para troopers behind enemy lines in Holland to seize several Dutch towns after which the allies would break through the German line in Belgium and race north to relieve them. Montgomery claimed his plan could end the war in 100 days which would see the western allies march into Berlin before the Red Army. Eisenhower did not have the capability to provide logistical support for both plans so he had to choose, Patton or Montgomery. Perhaps to appease the British (and Montgomery who had always resented not getting Eisenhower's job of Supreme Allied Commander) Eisenhower gave Montgomery the go ahead. This has caused a great deal of resentment over the years between British and American leaders because as we shall see, the failure of Market Garden prolonged the war significantly and ultimately resulted in much of central and Eastern Europe falling under Soviet domination.

The movie begins with British General Browning, played by Dirk Bogard explaining the plan to the Generals of the Air born divisions. 10,000 men of the US 101st air born division are to drop into Eindhoven and secure its bridges. 12,500 of the famous 82nd air born division are to take Nijmejen further North and the British 1st Air born division, along with a Polish brigade are to take Arnhem. The film brilliantly depicts the battle for each town. The Americans successfully take Einhoven and Nijmegen. There are some memorable scenes with James Caan and Elliot Gould as they race to capture bridges. Most memorably perhaps is a scene with Robert Redford where he leads troops across a river at Nijmegen in a desperate attempts to secure a vital bridge. They all get slaughtered. The real focus of the film is at Arnhem where British troops have seized the town. Sean Connery is superb as the gritty Major General Roy Urquhart who sets up command of the operation at the Hartenstein Hotel (the original hotel which is now a museum was used in the filming) in Oosterbeek, a suburb of Arnhem. Anthony Hopkins plays Colonel Johnny Frost who desperately leads the defence of the main bridge in Arnhem, now appropriately named after him.

Below is one of my favourite scenes. Watch as American soldiers led by Elliott Gould race to capture Son bridge outside Einhoven. Quite funny.

The tension gradually builds in the movie as it becomes clear that the British XXX Core tank division that initially breaks through the German line in Belgium are struggling to make the dash north to relieve the paratroopers. They do manage to relieve the Americans in Einhoven and Nijmegen but the road to Arnhem proves to be a bridge too far. The British fighting in Arnhem were told it would take 2 days for XXX Core to reach them. But one week later they are still fighting for their lives as they are pushed into an increasingly smaller pocket by the Germans, who just happened to have had an SS panzer division near by when the British landed. As desperate attempts to re supply the stranded paras with new men and equipment fail, including one harrowing scene where reinforcements are dropped from the air only to be met with German troops who slaughter them before they hit the ground, it becomes clear the mission is failing. On day nine the remaining Brits, on realising they will not be relieved make an attempt to break through to the British lines. About 2000 succeed in doing so. The rest of the 12,500 are captured or killed.

Many people do not like this film. It is very long and in truth it is made for the history buffs like me. Having said that the performances of Connery, Caine and particularly Edward Fox as the eccentric General Horrocks, commanded of XXX Core, result in some very memorable scenes that any movie lover would enjoy. In addition A Bridge Too Far is unique as it is a World War Two movie about defeat. Most WW2 movies are about victory over evil and ultimately portray war as a necessary thing. Attenborough has described this movie as an anti war film. I like this idea. Most anti war movies are set during World War One or the Vietnam War. Rarely are they set during World War Two. I have noticed how World War Two is often portrayed in popular culture as a glorious time. I even find myself thinking occasionally how exciting it would have been to have lived through it. Sometimes we need reminding that the second World War was probably the worst thing to ever happen the human race. This film rightly shows the suffering of the Dutch people. In fact a result of the failure of Market Garden was a Dutch Famine (inflicted on the people by the Germans in retaliation for their support of the allied paratroopers) in which thousands of civilians starved to death. This is one of the reasons A bridge too far has made it onto my list. Below are a sample of the photos I took when I visited Arnhem and Oosterbeek.

The Hartenstein Hotel in Oosterbeek outside Arnhem. Major General Roy Urquhart took over this hotel and it became headquarters for the Arnhem operation for nine days. Attenborough used the same building for the 1977 film.

The graves of thousands of British and Polish troops killed at Arnhem

Yours truly posing with an American Sherman Tank

Saturday, December 5, 2009

70 Years Ago Today 5/12/39

Moscow: Stalin rejects a League of Nations proposal to end the war with Finland.

Finland: Red Army troops have reached the Mannerheim Line, Finland's main defensive position.

Washington: President Roosevelt asks for $1,319 million out of his $9,000 million budget to be spent on defence.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Obamas Speech (updated)

Watch Obamas crucial speech from West Point military academy last night.

OK, I though this speech was a bit odd. My main issue with this speech is as follows. By dramatically escalating this war while simultaneously establishing a timetable for withdrawal the President is trying to please everybody. To put it simply, the hawks love troop increases and the doves love time tables for withdrawals. One thing I know about politics is that you can't please everybody so don't even try, you will just look foolish. Obama is a liberal. He was elected as a liberal and he has a mandate from the American people. I understand American politics and the need to build up coalitions and alliances but if he has a liberal agenda then he is entitled to implement it just as Ronald Regan was his conservative agenda. If he believes that there is too much of a risk of America getting bogged down in an unwinnable then he should withdraw the troops, focus on counter terrorism and ride the inevitable wave of criticism from the republicans who will call him weak. For now though, I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that he genuinely believes defeating the Taliban is vital for American security.

I, like Obama always believed that Iraq was the wrong war and Afghanistan the right one. But now I'm not so sure. Truthfully I'm becoming less and less convinced that defeating an uprising by Afghan peasants is vital to western security. Apparently there are less that 100 Al Quaeda members in the whole of the country. The Taliban to me appear to have a local agenda that goes no further than toppling the Karzai government. The truth is, right now I don't know where I stand on Afghanistan. I don't know if I'm for or against the war. I suppose I'll have to think about it for a while and get back to you all. In the meantime, here are a few random thoughts I have on Obamas speech and its fall out.

1. I don't buy the republican argument that a time table emboldens the enemy. The truth is you can never outlast an insurgency in their own country so why not set a time table, give it your best shot and leave.

2. I don't buy the argument that "Bush was committed to his surge", so Obama should committed to his. I'm not in the mood for spin today. The surge did work. But it was a change in strategy that chased Al Quaeda out of Iraq. It was not a case of the US increasing troop levels and militarily crushing the enemy.

3. I have more random thoughts, but I'm tired and I'm having an early night. Random thoughts 3 & 4 coming tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

It's Counter Insurgency

Obama will make an adress from West Point military academy tonight

Last month I posted on the options facing President Obama in the Afghan war and whether or not he is likely to adopt a counter insurgency or counter terrorism strategy. He has spent three months debating with his staff on whether or not to grant General McChrystal the 40,000 extra troops he requested in what would be a major escalation of the war and a definite sign that the President intends to pursue a counter insurgency strategy. He will announce his decision tonight in an address to West Point military academy although the White House has leaked in the last few days that the President will agree to send approximately 30,000 troops while pressuring other NATO allies to make up the final 10,000. The exact numbers will be known shortly.

The President has been the subject of fierce criticism from republicans claiming that he has hesitated on this issue. My instintcs tell me that in a long war like this, making the correct decision is more important than making it quickly. I'll be listening to his speech tonight. What I will be listening for is an indication that the President has an achievable goal. Afghanistan is simply the worst country in the world to get bogged down in. If it turns into a never ending battle against highly motivated Afghan peasants, America will lose.