The decision point on the Af-Pak theater

posted at 10:12 am on September 21, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

The Washington Post reports on General Stanley McChrystal’s new assessment of the war in the Afghanistan-Pakistan theater, which challenges the Obama administration to either commit to the fight or retreat altogether.  McChrystal warns that he needs an influx of new troops in serious numbers to support his counterinsurgency efforts in the region, and without them the war could be lost in as short a period as a year.  It provides a decision point that will test Barack Obama’s commitment to the war he insisted America should be fighting when he opposed the surge in Iraq:

The top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan warns in an urgent, confidential assessment of the war that he needs more forces within the next year and bluntly states that without them, the eight-year conflict “will likely result in failure,” according to a copy of the 66-page document obtained by The Washington Post.

Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal says emphatically: “Failure to gain the initiative and reverse insurgent momentum in the near-term (next 12 months) — while Afghan security capacity matures — risks an outcome where defeating the insurgency is no longer possible.”

His assessment was sent to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates on Aug. 30 and is now being reviewed by President Obama and his national security team.

McChrystal concludes the document’s five-page Commander’s Summary on a note of muted optimism: “While the situation is serious, success is still achievable.”

But he repeatedly warns that without more forces and the rapid implementation of a genuine counterinsurgency strategy, defeat is likely. McChrystal describes an Afghan government riddled with corruption and an international force undermined by tactics that alienate civilians.

The big problems in Afghanistan have not changed.  The elected government has rampant corruption and its reach does not extend far beyond the major cities.  Its infrastructure is non-existent, a fact that NATO has been trying to improve, and which the Taliban have been trying to stop.  Afghanistan’s security forces have developed and grown, but not at the rate needed to have them replace Western troops, even if the fighting were to miraculously disappear or be greatly reduced.  The Taliban continue to operate out of bases in Pakistan, which Western forces can only hit by air, or with covert troops on rare occasions.

McChrystal adds a few new problems into the mix.  After several years of fighting against the West, the Taliban has refined its capabilities for fighting and for propaganda.  Both have become more effective.  Even when NATO succeeds in capturing Taliban fighters, it becomes a problem, since the captured Taliban get mixed into general prison populations and radicalize the other inmates.  McChrystal describes these as al-Qaeda bases.

It’s not a pretty picture, and McChrystal’s report clearly defines this as a fish-or-cut-bait moment.  If we hope to prevail, we will need a political commitment for more resources over a much longer period of time than most politicians have been willing to report.  Michael Yon has insisted that means decades of Western involvement, to make sure that an Afghanistan we eventually leave will not slide back into the Afghanistan of the post-Soviet period, where radical Islam prevails and terrorist networks build central offices for attacks on the world.  Either we commit to this fight, or we should pull out altogether.

This brings us to Barack Obama.  The left wing of his party wants to retreat from both Afghanistan and Iraq, and this report gives them the bright line in the sand they need.  The GOP have been very supportive on Afghanistan, with a few notable exceptions (George Will being the most prominent).  The center bought Obama as something other than a typical liberal shrinking violet on American power based on his campaign pledges to fight and win in Afghanistan.  A retreat might lose the GOP, which he never had except on this issue, and win back his left wing, but it will absolutely undermine his credibility with the center and further erode his political standing.

So what path will Obama choose?  Obama will probably try to kick the can down the road even further to avoid the political consequences of a hard choice in either direction.  That means either no new troops or an insufficient increase, with no commitment for the long term.  That’s exactly what McChrystal warns will lose this war in this report.  If Obama does act in that manner, it will be interesting to see if McChrystal stays in his position or abruptly retires.

Addendum:  My friend and neighbor Pete Hegseth works tirelessly for Vets For Freedom, which has a new petition demanding that the White House fully commit to the Af-Pak theater and resource the forces there appropriately.  The Wall Street Journal reports on the petition here.  Be sure to read them both.

Update: Do not miss an extraordinarily good assessment by Bruce McQuain at QandO.  It’s lengthy but absolutely dead on point.  Here’s a small taste:

Victory is used in a military sense. Victory is success. But we all know that while the military is an integral part of any success we might have there, ultimately it can’t “win” the day by itself. Success will be defined as leaving a sovereign nation capable of governing and defending itself when we eventually leave. We may not like that definition, we may not like the fact that we’re again engaged in nation building and we may not like the fact that such an endeavor is going to take years, possibly decades to achieve – but that is the situation we now find ourselves in. If we were to abandon Afghanistan now, we’d see it quickly revert to the state it was in 2001 – ruled by Islamic fundamentalists and a safe-haven for our most avowed enemies.

We have to decide now whether or not we’re going to commit to the “long war” to achieve the success I’ve outlined or whether we, like many nations before us, will leave Afghanistan to its fate and suffer the consequences such an abandonment may bring in the future.

And, as always, get updated on the situation by reading everything Michael Yon has reported, good and bad, and don’t forget to hit his tip jar.


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The big problems in Afghanistan have not changed. The elected government has rampant corruption and its reach does not extend far beyond the major cities.

Same problem the Russians faced.

jaime on September 21, 2009 at 11:25 AM

“Even when NATO succeeds in capturing Taliban fighters, it becomes a problem, since the captured Taliban get mixed into general prison populations and radicalize the other inmates. McChrystal describes these as al-Qaeda bases.”

This exact sentiment is what I have been warning about but in reference to Gitmo’s closing and seeding of our own home state penitentiary system with these guys. Even in the super max prisons (which we don’t have enough of to house all the AQ) inmate to inmate communication happens regularly. The quickest way to home grown terrorism here in the states is for US to mix these AQ prisoners with our gen pops even if in a lock down environment.

Afghanistan-This was the battlefield of our enemies choosing for very very very good reason. It played to all our weaknesses and none of our strengths could be leveraged whereas Iraq was our field of chose that played to all our strengths and emphasized our enemies weaknesses.

Bottom line is Afghanistan will require a minimum generational commitment 30+ years. The reason is simply that it will take a generation to grow enough educated to understand freedom and enough educated leads based on civil governance rather than warlord tough man abilities. After 30+ years of continuous conflict the current Afghani pop is illiterate knowing only the AK and the Koran, with the leaders all just local strongmen known for fighting not civil abilities. Warlords hate peace it makes them useless.

C-Low on September 21, 2009 at 11:28 AM

GOOOOOOOOD MORNING VIET NAM! Hey, this is not a test! This is rock and roll! Time to rock it from the Delta to the D.M.Z.!”
Used without permission

Blacksmith8 on September 21, 2009 at 11:31 AM

God help our troops in the midst of this war. Lord, let them not be pawns to the political machine.

Christian Conservative on September 21, 2009 at 11:32 AM

The 7th century cannot be brought into the 21st century no matter how many troops you throw at it.

PatriotRider on September 21, 2009 at 11:32 AM

Do we have an embassy in Afghan that can support the rooftop take off of the last chopper out and will there be someone on the ground to film it leaving?

docflash on September 21, 2009 at 11:32 AM

Shock the Monkey on September 21, 2009 at 11:24 AM

I have zero confidence in anyone in the White House or in what passes for “leadership” in Congress.

If Obama were not an arrogant, ignorant individual, he would delegate the whole thing to the Pentagon and let the adults win this one.

Instead, he’ll continue to stick his nose in along with that idiot Hillary and make a mess of it.

If we had actual leadership in this country, I would say stay in to win it, but with the current three ring circus in Washington, I say cut the best deal you can and get out.

NoDonkey on September 21, 2009 at 11:32 AM

Yes and no. I know the ISI is assisting the Taliban. What I’m thinking is that the Taliban will take over the entire country (the entire government). Certainly, elements of the ISI will support that. Also remember, while Pak is pushing back in Swat and other Taliban strongholds, it wasn’t that long ago, that the Taliban, under Betulah Messud, came close to Islamabad. They still routinely, cut off the flow of supplies into Afghanistan too.

That too, could lead to some serious regional stuff as I’m quite sure India wouldn’t sit by and let the nutters get the nukes.

batter on September 21, 2009 at 11:20 AM

I see your point. I don’t think it is impossible for the Taliban to take over the government of Pakistan completely but it is unlikely. They might take over parts of Pakistan – perhaps the NWFP which is populated by coethnics but would have a harder time taking over Punjab or Sindh. Pakistan is much more powerful than the Taliban, its just that the Pakistani army does not care too much about capturing terrorists.
India is pretty much a useless actor in South Asia. If the Taliban takes over Pakistan, they would probably give a strongly worded letter and go to the UN.

nyx on September 21, 2009 at 11:35 AM

General McChrystal is a very capable theater Commander who knows what he needs to win and, if properly supported, could win. But in Obama, we have an inept Commander in Chief who does not have the experience or the knowledge to make the right calls. Plus, the Democrats have stopped trying to win wars.

Look for Obama to make a mess. Look for America to get hit again. Don’t want it to be, but it will be.

Phil Byler on September 21, 2009 at 11:35 AM

Am I reading this correctly? Obama has a chance to vote present again?

That’s what he has the most experience at so it should be easy.

Grantman on September 21, 2009 at 11:37 AM

If we had actual leadership in this country, I would say stay in to win it, but with the current three ring circus in Washington, I say cut the best deal you can and get out.

NoDonkey on September 21, 2009 at 11:32 AM

I personally think the mission is worth fighting for, and that’s why I’m filling out an OCS packet as we speak. Leadership does not change the necessity and merits of this mission. Moreover, leadership does not change the outcome of failure.

Shock the Monkey on September 21, 2009 at 11:48 AM

It should be noted that the time to win this war was 2002, but our idiot CINC was fixated for yellowcake that didn’t exist.

Bleeds Blue on September 21, 2009 at 10:36 AM

It should be noted that the yellowcake did exist and that it is now in Canada.

Saving face is a bad strategy if it involves compromising the primary objective and the men tasked to carry it out. But, who should expect self-described intellectuals to display the audacity of humility?

JCred on September 21, 2009 at 11:49 AM

It’s really quite simple, folks: what better way to demoralize and discredit the despised military (currently ascendant in national opinion) than to subtly steer the country into another ‘Nam?

All the too-familiar ingredients are whipping up there: under-resourcing/staffing of the military and its campaign; intelligence lapses and second-guessing; increasing civilian/political interference in strategy and tactics; rising loss of support by the American people whipped up by leftoid destructive opinion-undercutting techniques; a rising native corruptocracy/warlordism powered by rigged elections; an increasingly disaffected and disenchanted local populace; stealth sabotage by unfriendly other powers (e.g., Russia, Iran) via training, financing and equipment provisioning of native insurgents/fighers, etc. etc.

And the Hate-Americassiah’s already shaping his dream alternative civilian service corps – aimed to be just as, if not larger, more powerful and well-resourced as the military – courtesy of ACORN, the unions, and the usual useful tools in the media, academia, business and cultural/entertainment spheres.

Mojamaiko on September 21, 2009 at 10:52 AM

Yup.

I agree, this dovetails with my post above. Obama desperately wishes to rid America of it’s exceptionalist attitude. What better way than a Vietnam redux? He’ll pursue a losing strategy in Af-Pak , but will remain long enough to wear down our force readiness (which is already stressed) enfeebling our ability to cat decisively elsewhere.

By cutting defense budgets while simultaneously chewing up our forces and equipment he effects our ability. By creating another “Nam” fiasco, he effects our will to engage in the future. Other than the minor action with the pirates and a strike in somalia, I am loathe to find any policy decision he has made as to our advantage. None of any real consequence.

Having an Op-For backround (9th ID Scouts & 10th SF Group outta Ft.Lewis) in my service days, I am particularly attuned to seeing things from a “how to attack the Americans” vantage point, that was my job. Though that was from a tactical view, in retirement academically I have pursued my Masters in Strategic Int’l Studies and am currently considering (finances dictate) getting my Doctorate.

As I take the cumilative of Obama’s actions into account from strategic POV, either he is a MORON on our side, or a GENIUS against us.

If I were coaching a “Manchurian Candidate” on how to destoy this nation, I would cuncil the following.

1)Undermine the rule of law to inspire a lack of confidence for investors.

2)Destabilize the currency to create a flight of capital and dry up credit.

3)Try to foster either class, religious or racial strife., whichever is easiest and finds greatest support.

4)Overcommit forces in such a way as to insure victory no-where while deteriorating capabilities through relentless engagement. With terrain/theatre difficulty selected to maximum effect.

5) Undermine, or abrogate outright, treatise and traditional alliances to insure strategic isolation and hinder operational options. Internationally, subvert confidence that you will honor past,present and future agreements in areas of trade, finance and defense.

6) Demoralize the populace in the institutions of governance, the character of it’s leadership and blame precedent traditional methodologies to shake the confidence of the people in its under lying principles.

This of course, is just a hypothetical “what if” I was advising nascent guerilla group or potential “Manchurian Candidate”.

Look around, any of the above strike you as uncomfortably familiar to current events?

Coincidence?

You be the judge.

Archimedes on September 21, 2009 at 11:49 AM

Damn, gotta get a grip on the typo thing. That is just waaay out of control. Sorry folks, I need to start using that preview thingy before subjecting you to my opinions.

Archimedes on September 21, 2009 at 11:53 AM

It’s hard to tell now what Obama will do with Afghanistan, but this is truly a make-it-or-break-it moment.

During the campaign, Obama portrayed Afghanistan as the “good” war, since the US originally went there to dislodge the Taliban, which had protected the Al Qaeda terrorists who perpetrated 9/11, whereas Obama portrayed Iraq as an “unnecessary” war. Obama also tried to play “tough guy” by stating during a Dem debate that he would send troops into “Pockyston” to get Bin Laden, even without the permission of the nuclear-armed Pak government.

Strategically, Afghanistan is harder to control than Iraq. Iraq is mostly flat desert, with most of the population living along the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. Afghanistan is very mountainous, with most of the population either in the Kandahar region in the south, and along an east-west line in the north between Kabul and Herat. The eastern mountains along the Pakistan border offer protection for the Taliban to conduct raids inside Afghanistan, then run back over the border into Pakistan, where any attack on them could be spun into an attack on “sovereign” Pakistan, even though the Pak government has little control over that area.

If Obama was smart, the extra troops requested by McChrystal would be deployed mostly along the eastern border to prevent Taliban raids from Pakistan, and some of them could be used in a “surge”-type strategy used by Petraeus in Iraq to fraternize with Afghans in the major cities and gain their trust, so that they would cooperate by “ratting out” Al Qaeda operatives. There would also be some troop needs in the Herat area in the west–what are the Iranians doing in that area? We don’t hear much about that in our media…

Another major problem is the poppy culture–a lucrative crop that’s probably funding the Taliban. The southern plains around Kandahar could be Afghanistan’s bread-basket, but something needs to be done to persuade Afghan farmers to feed their own people, rather than reduce Westerners into a stupor for higher profits. This would require a coordination of diplomacy, humanitarian aid, and agricultural experts, but does the Obama adminstration have the smarts to pull it off? What does Obama, a product of the streets of Chicago, know about farming?

Steve Z on September 21, 2009 at 11:53 AM

What does Obama, a product of the streets of Chicago, know about farming?

Steve Z on September 21, 2009 at 11:53 AM

He doesn’t know anything about any of this. He is Chauncey Gardner.

The question is, will the actual President listen to the generals or to the idiots like Susan Rice and Samantha Power?

rockmom on September 21, 2009 at 12:07 PM

[...]does the Obama adminstration have the smarts to pull it off? What does Obama, a product of the streets of Chicago, know about farming?

Steve Z on September 21, 2009 at 11:53 AM

I’m guessing he knows a little about poppies.

ElectricPhase on September 21, 2009 at 12:09 PM

In 2002, the general population was not radicalized against us. We were, more or less, liberators rather than occupiers. That situation has reversed.

Bleeds Blue on September 21, 2009 at 10:51 AM

Yeah, now we’re defending the Afghan government we built which is trying its best to establish self-sustainability against the Taliban which is far more liked.

But, as you say, the Taliban will never stop fighting, so… why bother?

Skywise on September 21, 2009 at 12:09 PM

I won and I’m present. Now carry out my orders.

What orders?

Dhuka on September 21, 2009 at 12:11 PM

Another major problem is the poppy culture–a lucrative crop that’s probably funding the Taliban. The southern plains around Kandahar could be Afghanistan’s bread-basket, but something needs to be done to persuade Afghan farmers to feed their own people, rather than reduce Westerners into a stupor for higher profits.
Steve Z on September 21, 2009 at 11:53 AM

While I don’t deny that the Taliban is using poppies to fund their organizations a lot of Afghan farmers are doing it voluntarily.

Think about it… which feeds more Afghanis? 20 bushels of corn or 20 bushels of poppies which can be sold to purchase 100 bushels of corn?

Skywise on September 21, 2009 at 12:13 PM

The top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan warns in an urgent, confidential assessment of the war

We really need to start prosecuting EVERYONE who leaks confidential information to the press. It is so out of hand right now and the government has done nothing to put a stop to it and instead encourage it in some cases.

JeffinSac on September 21, 2009 at 12:13 PM

Do we have an embassy in Afghan that can support the rooftop take off of the last chopper out and will there be someone on the ground to film it leaving?

docflash on September 21, 2009 at 11:32 AM

Trust me, choppers ferrying embassy personel to safety again is something that leaves the MSM drooling in anticipation. They would literally risk their lives for an opportunity to film it. The networks would drone on and on about the “sacrifice” of their “noble” colleague undermining the US abroad. While ignoring the valor of the troops all around them.

Archimedes on September 21, 2009 at 12:15 PM

The 7th century cannot be brought into the 21st century no matter how many troops you throw at it.

PatriotRider on September 21, 2009 at 11:32 AM

Sure it can, it just means bleeding the 7th Century white…

Tim Burton on September 21, 2009 at 12:25 PM

Think about it… which feeds more Afghanis? 20 bushels of corn or 20 bushels of poppies which can be sold to purchase 100 bushels of corn?

Skywise on September 21, 2009 at 12:13 PM

So L.A. crack dealers do more to feed America than Wisconsin farmers? Got it.

ElectricPhase on September 21, 2009 at 12:26 PM

He doesn’t know anything about any of this. He is Chauncey Gardner.

The question is, will the actual President listen to the generals or to the idiots like Susan Rice and Samantha Power?

rockmom on September 21, 2009 at 12:07 PM

He’ll go with Rice and Powers, bank on it. I’m telling you, once familiarized with the philosophy and world view of all the denizens that now occupy the WH, it is impossible not to conclude that they see the diminishment of the US and its influence as priority #1.

In the interest of “fairness” they see the only way to balance the scales of “social justice” by our removal from the world stage and reduce our standard of living to free up resources for the oppressed.

No matter what facts are presented to them, they see us as the root of all evil. As Jeane Kirkpatrick (one of the last worthy Dems) once said, thgey are fixated on blaming America first, no matter what.

They intend to undermine our national interest in pursuit of a collectivist dystopia what evber the consequences, Damn the torpedos, full speed ahead!

Archimedes on September 21, 2009 at 12:28 PM

Since recorded history began the bones of empires have bleached on Afghan soil.

What arrogance to assume our end here will differ.

MarkT on September 21, 2009 at 12:33 PM

While I don’t deny that the Taliban is using poppies to fund their organizations a lot of Afghan farmers are doing it voluntarily.

Think about it… which feeds more Afghanis? 20 bushels of corn or 20 bushels of poppies which can be sold to purchase 100 bushels of corn?

Skywise on September 21, 2009 at 12:13 PM

America’s drug policies have been out of control and counter-productive for decades. Can anyone claim it be anything other than a complete failure?

Since the “War on Drugs” was first coined by the Nixon aministration it’s budget has balloooned exponentially. So much so that if if social security bene’s grew at the pace as the “War on Drugs” budget, the avg US granny would be receiving $6K pr month, really.

It has also led to the militarization of domestic law enforcement, that we now may be able to recognize as dangerous in the hands of someone like Obama. It has already led to immense abuses of power and subversion of our civil rights on a scale few of us comprehend.

If you for moment doubt what we have allowed to fester in our midst, I heartily recommend this White Paper from the CATO inst. It is diturbing alread as is, terrifying in the scope of what it portends in the wrong hands.

http://www.cato.org/pubs/wtpapers/balko_whitepaper_2006.pdf

Archimedes on September 21, 2009 at 12:43 PM

new assessment of the war in the Afghanistan-Pakistan theater, which challenges the Obama administration to either commit to the fight or retreat altogether.

Not to quibble about the choice of just a few words but I would say:

new assessment of the war in the Afghanistan-Pakistan theater, which challenges the Obama administration to either fully commit to the insanity or come to your senses altogether.

MB4 on September 21, 2009 at 12:48 PM

Ed,

Remember that Obama doesn’t like to use the word “Victory in Afghanistan”

Kini on September 21, 2009 at 12:48 PM

Bridge over the River Kwai to Afghanistan

Is it just me, or does Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s increasingly pathological obsession with “the people we seek to protect” — Afghans — to the exclusion of everything else, including the body parts of his own troops, begin to resemble the pathological obsession of another famous, albeit fictional, commander (whistling begins … )? Key is the shared blindness to national interest and enemy strategy.

From the Washington Post today:

McChrystal is equally critical of the command he has led since June 15. The key weakness of ISAF, he says, is that it is not aggressively defending the Afghan population. “Pre-occupied with protection of our own forces, we have operated in a manner that distances us — physically and psychologically — from the people we seek to protect. . . . The insurgents cannot defeat us militarily; but we can defeat ourselves.”

McChrystal continues: “Afghan social, political, economic, and cultural affairs are complex and poorly understood. ISAF does not sufficiently appreciate the dynamics in local communities, nor how the insurgency, corruption, incompetent officials, power-brokers, and criminality all combine to affect the Afghan population.”

Notice what’s missing (Islam).

Coalition intelligence-gathering has focused on how to attack insurgents, hindering “ISAF’s comprehension of the critical aspects of Afghan society.”

I’ll tell you what hinders ISAF comprehension — clueless Gen. McChrystal and all our see-no-Islam leaders, military and civilian, who are making a hash of US foreign policy on global jihad — not to mention our troops’s lives.

MB4 on September 21, 2009 at 1:00 PM

As dawn approaches, the trio are horrified to see that the wire to the explosives has been exposed by the receding river. Making a final inspection, Nicholson spots the wire and brings it to Saito’s attention. As the train is heard approaching, the two men frantically hurry down to the riverbank, pulling up and following the wire towards Joyce, who is waiting by the detonator. When they get too close, Joyce breaks cover and stabs Saito to death. Nicholson yells for help and tries to stop Joyce (who cannot bring himself to kill Nicholson) from getting to the detonator. A firefight erupts. When Joyce is hit, Shears swims across the river, but he too is shot, just before he reaches Nicholson.

Recognizing Shears, Nicholson suddenly comes to his senses and exclaims, “What have I done?” Warden desperately fires his mortar, mortally wounding Nicholson. The colonel stumbles over to the detonator plunger and falls on it as he dies, just in time to blow up the bridge and send the train hurtling into the river. Major Clipton has witnessed the carnage unfold. He shakes his head incredulously and utters, “Madness! … Madness!”

MB4 on September 21, 2009 at 1:11 PM

Michael Yon has insisted that means decades of Western involvement

Well screw that and the camel it rode in on.

MB4 on September 21, 2009 at 1:15 PM

‘A Serious Frustration’ [Rich Lowry]

The key quote from the Washington Post coverage of the McChrystal memo today comes at the end of this story:

But Obama’s deliberative pace — he has held only one meeting of his top national security advisers to discuss McChrystal’s report so far — is a source of growing consternation within the military. “Either accept the assessment or correct it, or let’s have a discussion,” one Pentagon official said. “Will you read it and tell us what you think?” Within the military, this official said, “there is a frustration. A significant frustration. A serious frustration.”

The military thinks the White House might want to throw McChrystal under the bus; the White House thinks the military is pushing Obama too hard on troop levels. The next few weeks will be a fraught period for civil-military relations.

NRO

Wethal on September 21, 2009 at 1:18 PM

Michael Yon has insisted that means decades of Western involvement
Well screw that and the camel it rode in on.

MB4 on September 21, 2009 at 1:15 PM

Yes, we should get out quickly, as we did in Japan, Germany, Italy, Korea, Kosovo….

Wethal on September 21, 2009 at 1:18 PM

I personally think the mission is worth fighting for, and that’s why I’m filling out an OCS packet as we speak.

I commend you and certainly wish you the best. I was in Desert Storm and we had unparalleled leadership, top to bottom.

It’s clear you don’t at the very top and that is very dismaying. The American people’s decision to put an unqualified, unaccomplished, smooth talker in charge will have consequences for many good people, unfortunately.

Leadership does not change the necessity and merits of this mission. Moreover, leadership does not change the outcome of failure.

Agree, but I fear that this mission is doomed, due to a complete void in the abilities and the twisted ideaology of what passes for our civilian leadership.

I hope for all of our sakes, that I am wrong.

NoDonkey on September 21, 2009 at 1:25 PM

Testing-testing?

Archimedes on September 21, 2009 at 1:28 PM

The Afghan war is unwinnable. The government is hated and corrupt; the Taliban and, increasingly, Afghan nationalists, will never actually stop fighting; and it is simply impossible to kill them all. We need to redefine victory as not having actual terrorist camps (not that there aren’t a half-dozen other countries where they might be established) and draw down to the smallest garrison able to support that mission.

It should be noted that the time to win this war was 2002, but our idiot CINC was fixated for yellowcake that didn’t exist.

Bleeds Blue on September 21, 2009 at 10:36 AM

The second part of this is pretty much totally out of sync with the first part.

MB4 on September 21, 2009 at 1:31 PM

Eastern Europe was abandoned last week on the 70th anniversary of the soviet invasion of Poland, so this only makes sense. Another example of smart power.

Brave Sir Robin ran away.
Bravely ran away, away!
When danger reared its ugly head,
He bravely turned his tail and fled.
Yes, brave Sir Robin turned about
And gallantly he chickened out.
Bravely taking to his feet
He beat a very brave retreat,
Bravest of the brave, Sir Robin!

gonegaltinstl on September 21, 2009 at 1:31 PM

Agree, but I fear that this mission is doomed, due to a complete void in the abilities and the twisted ideaology of what passes for our civilian leadership.

I hope for all of our sakes, that I am wrong.

NoDonkey on September 21, 2009 at 1:25 PM

+1

We lost when we decided it was not appropriate, for whatever reason, to go allout to win. Can’t win an asymetrical battle when you won’t do “what it takes.”

gonegaltinstl on September 21, 2009 at 1:35 PM

Ralph Peters is not George Will, so how do you respond to this?

corona on September 21, 2009 at 1:36 PM

Yes, we should get out quickly, as we did in Japan, Germany, Italy, Korea, Kosovo….

Wethal on September 21, 2009 at 1:18 PM

Equating Afghanistan to Japan, Germany, Italy and Korea is mind boggling.

MB4 on September 21, 2009 at 1:37 PM

We lost when we decided it was not appropriate, for whatever reason, to go allout to win. Can’t win an asymetrical battle when you won’t do “what it takes.”

gonegaltinstl on September 21, 2009 at 1:35 PM

It depends on you mean by doing “what it takes.” Do you mean that mean loosening up the ROE? Do you mean not providing adaquate troop numbers? If you are referring to the troop numbers, I completely agree. It’s tough to defend the population and kill bad guys when you have next to nothing for troop numbers. If you are referring to the ROE, I would respectfully disagree. While the ROE puts our troops in greater danger, it is done for a greater strategic reason. You simply cannot win civilian support, if you continually harm the civilian populace (I know it’s accidental). As every counter insurgency “thinker” for the past 50 years has stated, the people are the prize. If you win the support of the people, than you destroy the lifeline of the insurgency.

Shock the Monkey on September 21, 2009 at 1:42 PM

The Few. The Proud Hijabbed. The Marines.

MB4 on September 21, 2009 at 1:43 PM

corona on September 21, 2009 at 1:36 PM

This is not an argument for complete withdrawal, but for common sense: Forget “nation building”: There’s no nation to build. Get back to the original and essential mission of killing our enemies. That means al Qaeda — and al Qaeda hasn’t been a presence in Afghanistan since 2002.
- Ralph Peters

So this is rather like fighting the fires in California by spraying water in Oregon. Brilliant.

MB4 on September 21, 2009 at 1:51 PM

Equating Afghanistan to Japan, Germany, Italy and Korea is mind boggling.

MB4 on September 21, 2009 at 1:37 PM

How? Why, for example, are we still in Kosovo? How long are we going to be there? What strategic American interests are served by having US troops there?

Wethal on September 21, 2009 at 1:59 PM

Only a fool calls it surrender

Most of my conservative colleagues, however, see withdrawal from Afghanistan as surrender.

This assumption, based in the fallacy that U.S. forces are simply fighting an army called “the Taliban,” rather than struggling with a culture called Islam shared by enemy and civilian alike, makes sense only if withdrawing from Afghanistan means ending our efforts against global jihad. The point of withdrawal is not to stop destroying America’s active enemies in Afghanistan or elsewhere; this can continue from worldwide bases, or “lily pads,” as necessary, as Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely (USA ret.) argues. The point of withdrawal is to stop trying to create an American ally out of Sharia-supreme Afghanistan, something we attempted at great expense in Sharia-supreme Iraq, and failed.

Of course, what animates and drives most conservatives today is their vision of Iraq as a “success,” and their desire to repeat that “success” in Afghanistan. What has become increasingly clear to me, however, is that an infidel nation cannot fight for the soul of an Islamic nation. This, in effect, is what our “nation-building” troops have been ordered to do both in Iraq and Afghanistan. Let me rephrase: An infidel nation can indeed fight for the soul of an Islamic nation. It just can’t win it.

It also turns out there is nothing there for infidels to win. After six U.S.-intensive years, Iraq remains just another OPEC-participating, Israel-boycotting, Hezbollah-sympathetic, Sharia-supreme, anti-U.S. entity with new and improved ties to Iran. Why? Our belief systems, Islam’s and the West’s, are so diametrically opposed that our interests cannot intersect. Left and Right in this country, however, scrub this truth and its centuries of confirming history from all policy — an antiseptic way to view conflict in the world that will always miss the cure by ignoring the germs.

MB4 on September 21, 2009 at 2:04 PM

How? Why, for example, are we still in Kosovo? How long are we going to be there? What strategic American interests are served by having US troops there?

Wethal on September 21, 2009 at 1:59 PM

Don’t look at me if you want someone to defend our being in Kosovo.

MB4 on September 21, 2009 at 2:05 PM

My side voted overwhelmingly to go to war in Afghanistan and was smart enough not to want to give Bush carte blanche in Iraq.
Bleeds Blue on September 21, 2009 at 11:10 AM

And thus the war was extended…only when he really took over, and Patreus took command under Bush’s leadership, did it become a free country…after, Pelosi, Murtha, Biden, Obama, Kerry, Roberts, and most every other democrat said free elections would never happen, let alone a free nation.
Thanks for reminding us that it was the liberals who fought against that…and now the war that you overwhelmingly embrace, do you honestly think Obama has the will power, the fortitude to “stick it out” to the end? Or will he cut and run…I say he will cut and run, and when he does, he should pay the price of being disloyal…kind of like cut and running in Poland…

right2bright on September 21, 2009 at 2:10 PM

Since recorded history began the bones of empires have bleached on Afghan soil.

What arrogance to assume our end here will differ.

MarkT on September 21, 2009 at 12:33 PM

On the plains of hesitation bleach the bones of countless millions who, on the dawn of victory, stopped to rest and resting died….Omar Kayam

right2bright on September 21, 2009 at 2:23 PM

God help our troops in the midst of this war. Lord, let them not be pawns to the political machine.

Christian Conservative on September 21, 2009 at 11:32 AM

Too late for the second sentence…

right2bright on September 21, 2009 at 2:25 PM

Don’t look at me if you want someone to defend our being in Kosovo.

MB4 on September 21, 2009 at 2:05 PM

I was playing soccer with a bunch of guys who spoke a language I did not recognize a few years ago. Turns out they were from Kosovo, though these particular guys had fled in the early 90′s and not gone back. They were not too fond of having any foreigners, especially Americans, doing anything in ‘their’ country. It’s annecdotal, but still.

I also know about 50 or 60 people who have spent a year in Kosovo, and to hear them tell it, the mission is a little fuzzy.

BadgerHawk on September 21, 2009 at 2:27 PM

Since recorded history began the bones of empires have bleached on Afghan soil.

What arrogance to assume our end here will differ.

MarkT on September 21, 2009 at 12:33 PM

Quite incorrect, I’ve been dismayed at the popularity of that talking point since 2001 but seeing as few know about history it doesn’t surprise me I’m sad to say.

The simplest solution is the one that has worked many times for “empires” throughout recorded history in Afghanistan, decentralize the country and find tribal chiefs who agree with you and pay them to keep doing so. Maybe, if we can, keep a force in country to whack trouble makers and major threats to the chiefs.

That being said I still support the McChrystal’s surge. Keep down the Taliban long enough to see if the Afghan security forces can mature to a point where they can handle it. We can always go back to the proven successful method later.

jarodea on September 21, 2009 at 2:48 PM

My side voted overwhelmingly to go to war in Afghanistan and was smart enough not to want to give Bush carte blanche in Iraq.
Bleeds Blue on September 21, 2009 at 11:10 AM

Hmm, the congressional vote seems to indicate otherwise. Your side is good at nothing more than supporting wars when they are popular and running away the moment they aren’t uber-popular, regardless of the effect that has on America’s national security. But then as can be seen, America’s national security never actually entered your side’s equation now did it?

jarodea on September 21, 2009 at 2:50 PM

Well one thing I’m sure we all agree on: Isn’t it refreshing to have a CINC so masterful, so coordinated, that he’s got the free time to travel all week doing rallies, and then devote a whole day to domestic policy interviews? It’s almost as if Obama weren’t a wartime president! Bush, you clod, you plodder! /sarc

Chris_Balsz on September 21, 2009 at 3:26 PM

So far he is voting present…

Keith_Indy on September 21, 2009 at 3:52 PM

I just do not understand how any president can abandon Afghanistan after 9/11. It will not end there. This place is not Vietnam.

Terrye on September 21, 2009 at 5:48 PM

I do not understand how any president can get an assesment from a commander on the ground and then come out and say..hey let’s give it a few weeks and see what happens.
Barack Obama is dangerous…inexperienced and dangerous.
I have friends over there.

milwife88 on September 21, 2009 at 6:21 PM

A retreat might lose the GOP, which he never had except on this issue, and win back his left wing, but it will absolutely undermine his credibility with the center and further erode his political standing.

What makes you think that? Independents are split pretty evenly on the Afghanistan war.

It would be nice if supporters of an indefinite war would at least tackle the issue of how to pay for it. I know, I know… it’s more fun to talk about deficits and such when the subject is healthcare. When it come to war, you mostly want to focus on the killing and valor and courage and whatnot. But it comes at a price. If we double down for decades in Afghanistan, we’re going to spend countless dollars and lose many, many more American service members.

And for what? So Al Qaeda cant regroup there? Well, what’s to stop them from regrouping in Somalia or Yemen? Or in Pakistan, as they’re doing? We cant invade and reform every failed state and lawless region in the world. We dont have the money to do it.

We disrupted Al Qaeda’s network in Afghanistan – that was the primary goal, and we accomplished it. Declare victory and get out.

orange on September 21, 2009 at 7:25 PM

Months ago, I wrote that Afghanistan was shaping up to be President Obama’s Vietnam. But the situation’s worse: In Vietnam, whenever our soldiers or Marines got in a fight, they could call for fire support and hear an immediate response: “On the way!” In Afghanistan, the response is, “Are you 100 percent sure there are no civilians in the area? Sorry, you’re on your own.
- Ralph Peters

MB4 on September 21, 2009 at 7:27 PM

DEMOCRATIC PARTY’S FOREIGN POLICY MOTTO: “We’re always prepared to fight the war that’s somewhere else.”

Dr. Charles G. Waugh on September 21, 2009 at 8:52 PM

But wait a minute. I voted for Obama because he said he was going to invade Pakistan and root out those pesky Al Queda guys.

kens on September 22, 2009 at 9:57 AM

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