McCain--Afghanistan not as tough as Iraq
While President Obama has insisted that securing Afghanistan against a rise in terrorist groups is a top priority in the war on terrorism, Sen. John McCain said Tuesday that the problems in that country are not as thorny as those in Iraq.I think McCain has got it right. While the enemy has increased his operation tempo somewhat in Afghanistan, it is still no where near the enemy tempo in Iraq before the surge. The casualty count is still relatively low compared to Iraq. We are still having to deal with an enemy that seeks a cross border sanctuary, but it is one that is increasingly hostile to the enemy because of our Hellfire strikes and the help we are getting from Pakistan in targeting them.
"It's [Afghanistan's] not as tough as Iraq, and don't let anyone tell you that it is, because when we started the  surge, Iraq was virtually in a state of collapse," McCain said during a speech at The Foreign Policy Initiative.
President Obama announced a troop increase Friday of 4,000 in Afghanistan, in addition to the 17,000 previously announced. Obama said those troops will help train the Afghan army and police.
While McCain said he supports the president's efforts in Afghanistan, he would increase the Afghan army beyond the planned levels.
"I would have announced a dramatic increase in the Afghan army. I'm talking about a 200, 250 thousand-person army. It's a big country, it's a big population," he said. Watch more about Obama's plan »
McCain also said that like him, many Republicans support Obama's plan in Afghanistan, but that will probably change. "I don't think there's any doubt that in a year from now, we will be looking at a greater level of opposition to the war than we are seeing today," he said.
The Arizona senator also rejected the idea that success in Afghanistan depends on stability in Pakistan.
"This notion that you can't succeed in Afghanistan without a success in Pakistan, I don't subscribe with it. We need a strategy for both countries, but we also need a separate strategy in regards to Pakistan by itself," McCain said.
He is definitely right about the need for more troops. the surge in Iraqi forces was significantly greater than the surge in our own forces and they became increasingly effective at a time when our intelligence also was more productive. That is what happens when you increase the force to space ratio to a point where you are protecting the people.
The war against the enemy in Pakistan will continue to be more clandestine at this point, but if Mehsud makes the mistake of attacking the US home front, all bets will be off on the use of ground forces in Pakistan to find and destroy him.