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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Comment pages: 1 2

So is he listening to Commanders on the Ground or not?

PappaMac on September 21, 2009 at 10:15 AM

But he repeatedly warns that without more forces and the rapid implementation of a genuine counterinsurgency strategy, defeat is likely

Obama Exit Strategy: WE QUIT!

PappaMac on September 21, 2009 at 10:16 AM

this guy pronounces Afghanistan and Pakistan completely different in one sentence. whats his deal? how can u trust a guy like that?

moonbatkiller on September 21, 2009 at 10:18 AM

You can almost see the guy thinking “Cut and Run”.

Hellrider on September 21, 2009 at 10:18 AM

So is he listening to Commanders on the Ground or not?

PappaMac on September 21, 2009 at 10:15 AM

He listens to Rahm and Soros. Political expediency is the name of the game.

a capella on September 21, 2009 at 10:19 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.

Seriously, illegal combatants need to be summarily executed, as provided by the laws of war.

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.

These bases need to be bombed, as in B-52 arclight bombed into dust.

Rebar on September 21, 2009 at 10:19 AM

Didn’t President Obama just say that winning in Afghanistan wasn’t crucial, or something to that effect? Doesn’t instill me with confidence, but here’s to hoping he listens to the commanders on the ground and gets behind both the mission and those fighting it.

BadgerHawk on September 21, 2009 at 10:19 AM

Why didn’t they ask for more troops sooner or give a more grim outlook. If they wanted more troops the last president wouuld have been the way to get them?

tomas on September 21, 2009 at 10:21 AM

um, present?

ThackerAgency on September 21, 2009 at 10:21 AM

Maybe Biden will float his partition idea again, see if it sticks.

ThePrez on September 21, 2009 at 10:22 AM

So is he listening to Commanders on the Ground or not?

PappaMac on September 21, 2009 at 10:15 AM

Only if they tell him what he wants to hear.

ICBM on September 21, 2009 at 10:22 AM

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.

Precisely. That’s what Democrat presidents, since Kennedy, have done and all they know to do.

The concept of fighting, much less winning, a war is complety foreign to Obama.

And the strategy of using overwhelming force to do so is as alien to him as telling the truth.

TXUS on September 21, 2009 at 10:24 AM

I know I know I know. . . we can give Pakistan an ICBM missile defense system. That’ll help for sure.

Please note that I’m not completely crazy. . . this is the policy America has been following in Afghanistan. We need to win in Afghanistan so the solution must be to give Pakistan more money for military equipment.

ThackerAgency on September 21, 2009 at 10:24 AM

“Listen to the generals” only applies if the president is Bush and the general is George Casey, who opposed the Surge and others of the same view.

Wethal on September 21, 2009 at 10:24 AM

“warns in an urgent, confidential assessment”

“according to a copy of the 66-page document obtained by The Washington Post.”

Yup.

there it is on September 21, 2009 at 10:24 AM

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.

If he does, and Afghanistan deteriorates, then he can say, “Hey, this is a losing situation. There’s no reason to commit more troops. It’s too far gone.”

By dragging his feet, he gets justification for denying the troop increase request. And don’t think President “Present” won’t do it.

Wethal on September 21, 2009 at 10:26 AM

Time for Barak to belly up to the bar and show what kind’ve leader he is. Unfortuantely, I think most on his site already know how this will turnout….remember the failed rescue of the American Hostages in Iran?

uh-hah, somet’n like that….

jbh45 on September 21, 2009 at 10:27 AM

So it is true, then! This is Obama’s Vietnam.

bloggless on September 21, 2009 at 10:29 AM

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 other week I was skewered for stating that unless the CINC is totally behind the war, the only thing we end up with is our finest lying in the streets of Afghan.
I have been through this, in Viet Nam, where the politicians began to run the war, and we lose our bravest, most dedicated, because someone like Kerry or Carter, doesn’t have the huevos, the intellect, the steadfastness of a President Bush.
I think we should be there, I think we should fight the war, and we would win………except, we don’t have the administration that is capable of doing that.
Margaret Thatcher once said that the most difficult decisions she had to make was what war to engage in, which war do the “pass up” for another day, when the odds are better at winning. And in doing so, she knew she was condemning a country citizen to death.
Such is the case with this, but for a different reason, Thatcher had the ability to win and wage a war, she was talking about strategy. Obama does not have the will to win, nor the desire to create democracy, and he has his base, the left to bow to.
Better to pull out know, and save our men for another day…I would not want my son or daughter to fight under someone not committed.
We lost 10′s of thousands of great men, family members and friends, all because politicians need votes more then they want freedom…

right2bright on September 21, 2009 at 10:29 AM

The Won isn’t worried about winning or losing in Afghanistan, but our troops are in harms way and need to be reinforced or brought home. That country isn’t worth 2cents and not one more soldier needs to die there so it can be used as a political reelection ploy by the left.

Kissmygrits on September 21, 2009 at 10:30 AM

Who’s more nervous? Iran or India?

Ya only get one guess!

SouthernGent on September 21, 2009 at 10:30 AM

Way to play with millions of lives for your political gain Obama.

sammypants on September 21, 2009 at 10:30 AM

These bases need to be bombed, as in B-52 arclight bombed into dust.

Rebar on September 21, 2009 at 10:19 AM

I’m confident they’re prosecuted pretty effectively when they’re located. It’s the locating part that’s difficult.

Blacklake on September 21, 2009 at 10:31 AM

Remember back when Bush put the “surge” into play in Iraq, and the Democrats were busy telling the world how stupid Bush was, that Bush doesn’t know how to fight a war, that despite the phony rumors stating that Democrats are weak and unwilling to fight, Democrats actually know how to fight much smarter and would have already taken down the AQ network and killed or captured OBL…

Remember back when the MSM was busy reporting the death of American soldiers as if we were playing a baseball game or something? With every American death came hundreds of articles demanding that we pull out of this unjust war and bring our heroes home. Seen any stories like that coming from the MSM now that their boy in running the war? Actually, it’s as if we don’t even have troops fighting on foreign soil anymore.

Maybe such stories are now considered racist since we have our first black potus.

Keemo on September 21, 2009 at 10:31 AM

right2bright on September 21, 2009 at 10:29 AM

Agreed. When our “leaders” don’t have the will to fight, is when we need to bring the kids home.

jbh45 on September 21, 2009 at 10:33 AM

…to add, I think the Republican’s should stand up and say “withdraw”, because our current president does not have the will, the ability, the knowledge and he has his base to cater to which is anti-war, anti-democracy in many cases.
They can say it with sadness, disgust, but they should begin the campaign of hanging this failure around Obama’s neck…he is the one that does not have what it takes to be a CINC. Obama has no resolve…he is a political hack.

right2bright on September 21, 2009 at 10:34 AM

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.

Good question. I know GEN McChyrstal and he is an extraordinary leader who has effected large scale change through the military special operations community. He is a master at “effects based” operations and this report is no different, it effectively dichotomizes the choices in Af-Pak–commit further forces, or lose–he is denying the POTUS the middle ground, aka the “Present” vote. GEN McChrystal has faced big challenges before that have cost others in his chain of command their careers–the Pat Tillman incident was one of them. McChyrstal survived because he anticipated several moves ahead and acted appropriately, if you will. This report is no different. Stan McChrystal is not going to be left holding the bag in AfPak, nor is David Petraeus–not without making the issue perfectly clear from jump street–commit or lose.

Good job, GEN McChyrstal. RLTW.

ted c on September 21, 2009 at 10:34 AM

I think the decision has already been made. The White House is just working on the communications campaign to spin it as a bold and courageous move that will make the U.S. more popular around the world.

President Emanuel needs to get the U.S. out of Iraq and Afghanistan ASAP. He needs to money to spend on health care and the rest of his welfare-state agenda.

rockmom on September 21, 2009 at 10:34 AM

The Afghans kicked out the British, they kicked out the Russians, if you let them kick out the Americans (and the Europeans), they’ll get such a morale boost, it’s hard to even imagine what it would cause.

Phoenician on September 21, 2009 at 10:35 AM

and we sign the Petition and what? It either doesn’t exist or its racist.

Angry mob that marched on 9/12 in DC

katablog.com on September 21, 2009 at 10:35 AM

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

Agreed. When our “leaders” don’t have the will to fight, is when we need to bring the kids home.

jbh45 on September 21, 2009 at 10:33 AM

But I want to be clear, I don’t like this strategy. It is painful, to think that we are abandoning a country who has a chance to live and build a democracy…it is just sickening, but worse is to have failure and thousands of our finest dead, with still a loss.
Just look what Obama did in Poland, and there were no “bodies” to contend with.

right2bright on September 21, 2009 at 10:36 AM

He could always say he isn’t aware there is a war going on. He’s got bigger issues on his mind, like non-healthcare, bailing out and running private business, talk shows, rudeness in the media…

bridgetown on September 21, 2009 at 10:37 AM

The problem is the unwillingness to acknowledge that to make an omelet, you have to break a few eggs. Civilian casualties are unfortunate and should be avoided, but NOT at all costs. Typical liberal warfighting.

BKeyser on September 21, 2009 at 10:38 AM

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

now tour a millitary commander, you should lay off the caffine.

SHARPTOOTH on September 21, 2009 at 10:39 AM

tour=your

SHARPTOOTH on September 21, 2009 at 10:40 AM

If he does, and Afghanistan deteriorates, then he can say, “Hey, this is a losing situation. There’s no reason to commit more troops. It’s too far gone.”
Wethal on September 21, 2009 at 10:26 AM

When in doubt, Obama will always dither, as usual, and inevitably, as is his habit, assign blame…to Bush, of course!

Obama: “Instead of focusing on Afghanistan when the ‘iron was hot,’ Bush squandered money, time and talent in Iraq. So, now I have inherited a ‘mess’ where Afghanistan is too far gone. Because of Bush, there is no option but ‘Cut and Run.”

marybel on September 21, 2009 at 10:40 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

You are right, the time to have won was under Carter or Clinton…you have that right, but they both showed how weak they were.
Carter was afraid of any confrontation, and Clinton had Osama in his sights and didn’t give the order to take him out. And Clinton completely ignored the USS Cole attack.
Good call on saying our democrat leaders have shown how weak they are when faced with tough decisions.
President Bush made his mistakes, but at the end he has a free country, one that many said would be impossible….including our current President, VP, and house leaders.
Thanks for reminding us what a real CINC needs to do, act.

right2bright on September 21, 2009 at 10:40 AM

The 9/11 “Day of Service” ploy was a scheme to detach 9/11 from the deaths of 3000 Americans and the war in Afghanistan, and to change 9/11 to a generic combination of Earth Day and Martin Luther King Day.

Make it more vague as to why we went to Afghanistan in the first place. And get people in the mindset that on certain days they must turn out and do community service.

Wethal on September 21, 2009 at 10:41 AM

Completely stupid idea here but let me throw this out–

Putin is all happy with our new found “friendship” and wants a better alliance with NATO…

Well… what better show of that then to have Russia send in troops to help the fight in Afghanistan?

Yeah you’ve got the historical issues here. But on the other hand, the Taliban is a threat to Russia as well.

Of course Obama could call on more troop support from Poland and Czechoslovakia… /s

Skywise on September 21, 2009 at 10:45 AM

McChrystal Leak [Rich Lowry]

I’m just starting to read the memo now, but this leak was ideally timed—whether intentionally or not—to push back against Obama’s weak performance on the Afghan war yesterday. Suddenly, he doesn’t know what the strategy is? This is a way for McChrystal’s voice—missing so far from the debate—to be heard loud and clear, making the case for counter-insurgency tactics and more troops to back them up.

09/21 10:37 AMShare

NRO.

And when the retired generals start chiming in and say what McChrystal and Petraeus cannot…

Wethal on September 21, 2009 at 10:45 AM

The Afghan war is unwinnable.

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

That’s what you guys said about Iraq. Different situation, obviously, but your side has a track record of wanting to give up prematurely in foreign conflicts.

BadgerHawk on September 21, 2009 at 10:46 AM

The Afghan war is unwinnable. The government is hated and corrupt; the Taliban and, increasingly, Afghan nationalists, will never actually stop fighting;

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

There seems to be a disconnect in your reasoning…

Skywise on September 21, 2009 at 10:47 AM

As I hold athat Obama has only the most nefarious of intentions towards America, I’d bet the farm on The Won maintaining only enough of a presence in Af-Pak to provide a juicy target.

Politically, choppers lifting of our embssy roof again would be too much for his majority to survive come ’10, and would doom his re-election in ’12.

Look for the middle ground, just enough to look pro-active and supporting his commander in the field, but not enough to decisively effect the outcome in our favor. It’ll be billed as pragmatism, as usual by the State Run Media.

I decisive victory in Af-Pak reinforces the notion of American “exceptionalism”, and we all know how he feels about that. But having 100k troops conveniently ties up our forces, disallows a rest & refit of troops and equipment, and provides future excuse not to interfere when Russia makes it’s next move in Georgia or Ukraine. Which is coming, bank on it, especially after the “missle shield” appeasment.

Every morning I wake up terrified what next idiocy this a$$ will foist upon us. It just keeps getting worse and worse, sonn I’ll be needing nationalized healthcare to treat my FPD (Face-Palm Disease).

Archimedes on September 21, 2009 at 10:47 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

You are right, the time to have won was under Carter or Clinton…you have that right, but they both showed how weak they were.
Carter was afraid of any confrontation, and Clinton had Osama in his sights and didn’t give the order to take him out. And Clinton completely ignored the USS Cole attack.
Good call on saying our democrat leaders have shown how weak they are when faced with tough decisions.
President Bush made his mistakes, but at the end he has a free country, one that many said would be impossible….including our current President, VP, and house leaders.
Thanks for reminding us what a real CINC needs to do, act.

right2bright on September 21, 2009 at 10:40 AM

Yeah — Bush did a great job — letting bin-Laden escape and the ignoring a deteriorating situation for six years while he wasted troops and money on a mistake in Iraq. To suggest that the insurgent-infested, corrupt dictatorship Bushed passed to Obama is in any way indicative of success is to admit to drinking early on a Monday morning. His cheap bravado and idiotic strategies have done little more than get people killed. His only hope, legacy-wise, is that Obama bails his failed butt out.

Bleeds Blue on September 21, 2009 at 10:49 AM

Obama will do whatever he thinks is best for him politically (i.e. 2012).

exhelodrvr on September 21, 2009 at 10:49 AM

The Afghans kicked out the British, they kicked out the Russians, if you let them kick out the Americans (and the Europeans), they’ll get such a morale boost, it’s hard to even imagine what it would cause.

Phoenician on September 21, 2009 at 10:35 AM

just glad I don’t live in NYC or DC…

this defeat will be a disaster for this country…Islam will be on the march…and we don’t have the guts to stop it…

right4life on September 21, 2009 at 10:49 AM

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

Hate to say it, but the troll is half right. Winning in the Af-Pak theater has always been a nearly impossible task. Our current leadership’s utter cluelessness renders the trolls first statement a fait accompli.

ElectricPhase on September 21, 2009 at 10:50 AM

this guy pronounces Afghanistan and Pakistan completely different in one sentence. whats his deal? how can u trust a guy like that?

moonbatkiller on September 21, 2009 at 10:18 AM

If Barry was cosmopolitan, he should know afghanistan is pronounced af-gah-nee-stan. Barry’s like a man who learns nothing but Barrio Slang. He think he’s all cool but those who speak ingles and espanol feel muy tonto (silly).

nyx on September 21, 2009 at 10:50 AM

What is more likely:

Obama with his Leftist, anti-war bent and beliefs will commit to a multi-decadenal projection of American power, will increase troop levels in Afghanistan to where they are needed to destroy the enemy, will commit military force to the region to decisively destroy the Taliban – and do all of this contrary to the wishes of his radical base and the Democrats in Congress…

OR

He will half-ass this for another year or so, will figure out some way of withdrawing troops, while declaring some sort of “honorable retreat” or redeployment meme and declare he fulfilled his campaign promise to ‘win’ in Afghanistan?

I think we have the answer to the query.

catmman on September 21, 2009 at 10:50 AM

McChrystal Leak [Rich Lowry]

I’m just starting to read the memo now, but this leak was ideally timed—whether intentionally or not—to push back against Obama’s weak performance on the Afghan war yesterday. Suddenly, he doesn’t know what the strategy is? This is a way for McChrystal’s voice—missing so far from the debate—to be heard loud and clear, making the case for counter-insurgency tactics and more troops to back them up.

09/21 10:37 AMShare

So, now the rhetoric has to get reconciled with reality. Either the Afghan war is “the ball” that we took our eyes off of and we now have the opportunity to put those eyes and resources back on it and win, as GEN McChyrstal suggests. Or, obama vote’s “present” and kicks the can down the road as Ed suggests and leaves CENTCOM, and GEN McChrystal flapping in the breeze.

“When you come to the fork in the road….take it.”
unless you’re Barack Obama and you can pontificate, vote present, and march in place while appearing on 5 different TV shows.

ted c on September 21, 2009 at 10:50 AM

So what path will Obama choose?

The one of political expediency, of course…

Not so much fun, “being in charge”, is it?

Pass the pudding… Double scoop, please!

Khun Joe on September 21, 2009 at 10:51 AM

The Afghan war is unwinnable. The government is hated and corrupt; the Taliban and, increasingly, Afghan nationalists, will never actually stop fighting;

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

There seems to be a disconnect in your reasoning…

Skywise on September 21, 2009 at 10:47 AM

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

Well… what better show of that then to have Russia send in troops to help the fight in Afghanistan?

Skywise on September 21, 2009 at 10:45 AM

That is an absolutely terrible idea. The purpose of COIN is to protect and win the support of the population. You do not win support of Afghans by aligning yourself with a nation that destroyed Afghanistan over twenty years ago. That would have the reverse effect of uniting the entire Afghan population against us.

Shock the Monkey on September 21, 2009 at 10:51 AM

If I hear on more person say the afghan war is unwinnable. That is not the case. This IS about inflicting your will on the other person or the initial invasion would not have done so well.

You need the same type of plan and apply it to the villages close to the power base and then move outward.

tomas on September 21, 2009 at 10:52 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

If the mission is to create a democratic Afghanistan, with the Taliban actively prosetylizing and working the black market, and Karzai in Kabul declaring the Afghan insurgency is none of America’s business…and stay and fight until they respect us more than the “extreme” Taliban and Al-Qaeda, we’ve already lost.

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.</blockquote>

Nonsense. It’s all too easy.
Japan was hell-bent on fighting to the last man, too; until they weren’t.

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.

I’d restrict garrison duty to the pundits who support that crap. You and George Will go tote a rifle in the Kush. Don’t worry, there will be a red phone for fire support– but be aware the guy on the other end doesn’t want to see the NYT grumble about an increase in bombing in Afghanistan…so don’t call for help until you’re already shot. Hey, most of our guys survived Mogadishu, so we know the plan works!

Chris_Balsz on September 21, 2009 at 10:52 AM

Bleeds Blue on September 21, 2009 at 10:49 AM

And we see why you are the way you are. Bush Derangement Syndrome. It is all about Bush, everything.

As for Iraq, a mistake? You call liberating an entire country and the removal of one of the worse dictators of the last quarter of the 20th Century a mistake?

Liberals love Tyrants!

Holger on September 21, 2009 at 10:53 AM

Yeah — Bush did a great job — letting bin-Laden escape and the ignoring a deteriorating situation for six years while he wasted troops and money on a mistake in Iraq. To suggest that the insurgent-infested, corrupt dictatorship Bushed passed to Obama is in any way indicative of success is to admit to drinking early on a Monday morning. His cheap bravado and idiotic strategies have done little more than get people killed. His only hope, legacy-wise, is that Obama bails his failed butt out.

Bleeds Blue on September 21, 2009 at 10:49 AM

And here you have the new Journo-list/Media Matters/DNC talking points. Blame it all on the “Bush obsession with Iraq.”

rockmom on September 21, 2009 at 10:53 AM

What will Obama do?
Out.
Full retreat.

The not so friendly countries in the world are plotting their next major moves and will start making them soon because they are predicting that Jimmy Carter er, Obama, is a one-term deal. (Remember who followed Jimmy Carter and what repercussions that caused in the Commie world? Russia and China and Iran and others want to solidify their ambitions before that happens.)

albill on September 21, 2009 at 10:53 AM

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

Sri Lanka played hardball and won, on a shoestring budget. So should we. And it starts with: either you’re for us, or you’re dead.

Chris_Balsz on September 21, 2009 at 10:54 AM

His only hope, legacy-wise, is that Obama bails his failed butt out.

So you’re saying he has no hope then?

Bush was knee capped by the worthless traitors in the corrupt and incompetent Democrat Party, all for cynical political gain.

And it largely worked, congrats on that. You were able to elect more corrupt and incompetent Democrats to high office and put a complete joke of “man” in the Oval Office.

Of course, they’ve revealed themselves to be the scum they are and Democrats will be thrown out of office in droves in 2010, if not bodily before by enraged taxpayers.

What Bush did was well worthwhile and within the ideals and the traditions of this country.

Meanwhile, Barry’s most significant “accomplishments” consist of throwing a trillion dollars of taxpayer dollars at Democrat donors and the aptly named “Cash for Clunker” idiocy.

We don’t have president, we have a “present”.

NoDonkey on September 21, 2009 at 10:54 AM

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.
Bleedsblue

If you think actual terrorist camps in Afghanistan can be eliminated easily and they won’t redevelop after we leave, you are very naive about Central-South Asian Politics.

nyx on September 21, 2009 at 10:54 AM

That situation has reversed.

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

And why is that??? Could it be because they see a weak CINC leading the USA???

PappaMac on September 21, 2009 at 10:54 AM

For all of the disagreements I have with BO which are just about everything, I truly hope that any President makes the right decision when it comes to our brave young men and women in war. To me, the decision is a clear one. You either listen to your commanders on the ground and do the job right, or you order a withdrawal. To drag this out in order to develop a ‘strategy’ is ridiculous on it’s face.

We owe it to the fallen to complete the mission. GWB had that courage in 2006 when he ordered the surge in Iraq and it succeeded. I pray that Obama has the same courage in Afghanistan. I fear he does not and is putting off the decision to press the ‘exit’ button in order not to upset the more hawkish members in Congress who he needs on board for ObamaCare.

tatersalad on September 21, 2009 at 10:55 AM

I’m still trying to figure out what we ‘win’ in Afghanistan.

Iraq was one thing because they were violating the cease-fire agreement from the prior war, and they were violating all sorts of UN mandates.

The idea behind Afghanistan was to get the people who did 9/11. That’s all well and good, but they are in PAKISTAN.

They have nothing in Afghanistan that we want. If we need to, we can send in cruise missiles to enemy bases. But if we continue to try to fight in Afghanistan and give the enemy a ‘free base’ in Pakistan, we are wasting time, money, and most importantly, American lives.

ThackerAgency on September 21, 2009 at 10:56 AM

I wonder what the left would have done in ’02/’03 if US Troops pushed over the Afghanistan border into Pakistan in pursuit of UBL with massive air support.

Scream Bloody Murder comes to mind.

Taliban and Al-Qaeda regrouped, reorganized, retrained and resupplied because they were in a sanctuary. Not because Bush took the time to free an entirely second country.

Holger on September 21, 2009 at 10:56 AM

I think we have the answer to the query.

catmman on September 21, 2009 at 10:50 AM

And the bodies to prove it…
This is why the Republican’s need to come right out and say “Withdraw”, we have no confidence in Obama as a CINC, we do not want to commit our soldiers to a man who is not 100% committed to winning…the sooner they start that campaign the sooner a resolution.
Either we stay and win, or get out and save lives…but Obama owns the decision.
Fight and lose his base, or retreat and lose face.
Either way, the American people need to know, and Republicans need to press the issue…we have men over there risking there lives. They aren’t “pawns” in a political game, they have families, they are citizens, they are our finest. Use them, or lose them…

right2bright on September 21, 2009 at 10:56 AM

Liberals love Tyrants!

Of course they do, how else can their jackass ideas get enacted?

No sane population would swallow the idiocies “progressives” come up with, the only way possible to adopt far-left policies is to kill or imprison those who resist.

NoDonkey on September 21, 2009 at 10:57 AM

Also, you can be sure our “presence” will remain long enough for some cronies to land some lucrative contracts. Its the Chicago Way.

Archimedes on September 21, 2009 at 10:57 AM

Sri Lanka played hardball and won, on a shoestring budget. So should we. And it starts with: either you’re for us, or you’re dead.

Chris_Balsz on September 21, 2009 at 10:54 AM

very true..kill enough people, and you win…like we did in WWII…but we don’t have the guts for that anymore…

right4life on September 21, 2009 at 10:57 AM

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

The problem could not have been solved in 2002. Success in Afghanistan is not solely a military solution. Killing Bin Laden or Mullah Omar, or huge numbers of “Taliban” will not solve the problem. A huge population of “Taliban” (I quote Taliban because these men are a diverse group of insurgents rather than Islamic radicals) are anti-government forces who are angry with the corruption and impotence of the government. This war will only be successful when the Afghan government has the ability to provide goods, services, and protection without widespread corruption. This could not have been achieved in 2002.

Shock the Monkey on September 21, 2009 at 10:57 AM

So “Bush’s war” in iraq will succeed and Obamas war in Afpak will fail.

the_nile on September 21, 2009 at 10:57 AM

Look, new rules of engagement in AFPak have already resulted in the deaths of 4 US Marines near Ganjgal, AF in the Konar Province o/a 8-9 SEP.

The Marines were ambushed as they neared the village to meet with leaders. They suffered under small arms and rocket fire while repeated, I say again, REPEATED calls for tactical air and artillery support went denied–due to, not lack of availability, but of concern over civilian casualties that could result.

TWO of the four Marines were killed by either a rocket or RPG when one of them, already wounded, was being tended to with medical aid by another Marine or corpsman. BOTH were killed during this, a fact which strongly suggests that the Marines were pinned down to such an extent that they could neither find, nor move to effective cover, nor return effective fire to suppress the enemy.

Yes, our kinder and gentler AfPak theater is more dangerous for one group–US servicemembers.

I submit to all here at HotAir is watch what both the right and left hands are doing on this issue. Even if the POTUS commits further forces, it may be a small token if the ROE effectively neuters them once the rounds start flying.

US Marines should not be dead for fire support that gets DENIED.

ted c on September 21, 2009 at 10:57 AM

Taliban and Al-Qaeda regrouped, reorganized, retrained and resupplied because they were in a sanctuary. Not because Bush took the time to free an entirely second country.

Holger on September 21, 2009 at 10:56 AM

Bush was scrambling to get the liberal congress to fund even one war…let alone expanding it.
It would have been done, if not for the constant battling for votes.

right2bright on September 21, 2009 at 10:58 AM

Yeah — Bush Clinton did a great job — letting bin-Laden escape [from being turned over by Sudan for bombing the WTC in 1993].

Bleeds Blue on September 21, 2009 at 10:49 AM

FIFY. Can’t recall Bush whining much about “inheriting” bin Laden from Clinton.

Wethal on September 21, 2009 at 10:59 AM

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

How do you figure that? Are U.S. troops being attacked by regular Afghan civilians?

The reality is that we have a similar situation now in Afghanistan that we had in Iraq before General Petraeus took over — a civilian population that has been brutalized and intimidated by a gang of terrorists. Petraeus had a strategy that worked to change that, and get the people back on our side and helping us find and kill the terrorists. I see no reason why a similar strategy won’t work in Afghanistan. It has to be backed up by a temporary surge in forces so the hot spots of terrorist activity can be rooted out and the trust of the people in their security can be restored.

The question is whether President Emanuel can admit that the Bush/Petraeus strategy change in Iraq worked and should be emulated.

rockmom on September 21, 2009 at 10:59 AM

Lets see Barry vote “PRESENT!” on this one.

GarandFan on September 21, 2009 at 11:01 AM

Yeah — Bush did a great job — letting bin-Laden escape and the ignoring a deteriorating situation for six years while he wasted troops and money on a mistake in Iraq. To suggest that the insurgent-infested, corrupt dictatorship Bushed passed to Obama is in any way indicative of success is to admit to drinking early on a Monday morning. His cheap bravado and idiotic strategies have done little more than get people killed. His only hope, legacy-wise, is that Obama bails his failed butt out.

Bleeds Blue on September 21, 2009 at 10:49 AM

And here you have the new Journo-list/Media Matters/DNC talking points. Blame it all on the “Bush obsession with Iraq.”

rockmom on September 21, 2009 at 10:53 AM

So, defend the Bush Afghanistan strategy….

Bleeds Blue on September 21, 2009 at 11:01 AM

Can, meet shoe.

Then, when it comes time for open retreat, it will all be Boooosh’s fault.

petefrt on September 21, 2009 at 11:04 AM

This is scary. If Obama quits or defacto quits (“kick the can”), the Taliban-al Qaeda, will regain another good base of operations, and my first bet isn’t that they go after us. Rather, they’ll take Pakistan. Then come after us with a more destructive arsenal.

batter on September 21, 2009 at 11:04 AM

US Marines should not be dead for fire support that gets DENIED.

ted c on September 21, 2009 at 10:57 AM

Perhaps a review of what a democrat president does when faced with a crisis (and supported by Carter later with his inactions).
Let’s revisit the Bay of Pigs

Here is excerpt…this is typical of the “Camelot” president…

The expected supporting air cover by the U.S. Air Force never came. In a political environment full of posturing, threats and confusion, Rusk advised Kennedy to back off, concluding that additional strikes would tilt international opinion too far against the U.S.

“At about 9:30 p.m. on April 16,” describes L. Fletcher Prouty in Bay of Pigs: The Pivotal Operation of the JFK Era, [URL below] “Mr. McGeorge Bundy, Special Assistant to the President, telephoned the CIA’s General C.P. Cabell to inform him that the air strikes the following dawn should not be launched until they could be conducted from a strip within the beachhead.”

In other words, he left the men “hanging”, he pulled out and left the men on the beachhead to be over run and captured.

right2bright on September 21, 2009 at 11:05 AM

Bleeds Blue on September 21, 2009 at 11:01 AM

Defend your party not having the balls for war. I point to the Liberal side of the debate post 9/11 that did not seek war but to discredit the entire idea of a war against terrorists… Defend that.

Holger on September 21, 2009 at 11:05 AM

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:

Either way, Obama loses. If Obama goes with the anti-war radical Left, he’s exposed for what he is, loses the Center, confirms that he lies (“Afghanistan is where we should be fighting”), and credibility. Bonus: world despots have confirmation he’s a pushover.

Follows McChrystal’s advice, then he moves to Center and retains a modicum of credibility and fulfills one campaign promise, BUT loses the kook fringe Left.

If Obama goes Left, McChrystal needs to voice needs and keep up pressure. If he stays there.

conservative pilgrim on September 21, 2009 at 11:06 AM

This is scary. If Obama quits or defacto quits (”kick the can”), the Taliban-al Qaeda, will regain another good base of operations, and my first bet isn’t that they go after us. Rather, they’ll take Pakistan. Then come after us with a more destructive arsenal.

batter on September 21, 2009 at 11:04 AM

Pakistani ISI and the Taliban are BFF. So I don’t think Pakistan is in any danger of being taken over by the Taliban. What is much more likely is that the Taliban through the ISI would have access to nuclear arsenal. Perhaps that is what you are implying?

nyx on September 21, 2009 at 11:09 AM

As long as the center still sees Afghanistan as “The Good War” Obama will support it. If we lose public support like we did in Vietnam, Obama will go wobbly.

COIN-wise, Afghanistan can go Vietnam very easily. COIN is a battle of choices. Civilians will choose to support whomever they think will treat them the best. In Iraq, we started winning when the Iraqis finally figured out that both the Al Qaeda Sunni led insurgency and the Iran led Sadr insurgency were much worse than Maliki’s government. We need to prove to the Afghan’s that Karzi’s government will do a better job than the Taliban. This may prove to be more difficult than it sounds since Karzi’s government sounds even more corrupt than South Vietnam’s.

BohicaTwentyTwo on September 21, 2009 at 11:09 AM

So, defend the Bush Afghanistan strategy….

Bleeds Blue on September 21, 2009 at 11:01 AM

No Al-Qaeda attacks on the U.S. since 9/11. Iran isolated by democratic governments on all sides and its terror-supporting regime collapsing from within without a U.S. invasion. Bin Laden still pinned down and not close to getting control of Pakistan and its nuclear weapons.

What have you got?

rockmom on September 21, 2009 at 11:10 AM

Bleeds Blue on September 21, 2009 at 11:01 AM

Defend your party not having the balls for war. I point to the Liberal side of the debate post 9/11 that did not seek war but to discredit the entire idea of a war against terrorists… Defend that.

Holger on September 21, 2009 at 11:05 AM

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

Yeah — Bush did a great job — letting bin-Laden escape and the ignoring a deteriorating situation for six years while he wasted troops and money on a mistake in Iraq.

Bleeds Blue on September 21, 2009 at 10:49 AM

Clinton had him targeted, and didn’t say “pull the trigger”, he is the one who backed away, and we ended up with 3,000 dead on our land.
Bush left a country as a democracy, something that the left didn’t think was possible, they had no idea of the resolve and dedication it takes to see a task through.
JFK and Bay of Pigs, Carter and 400 days of our men in prison, Clinton and the USS Cole…they all ran.
Bush stood and fought, and in a fight you get a bloody nose…but standing on the sideline you are safe…time for my favorite quote to you wimps, you weaklings, you boys who are afraid to fight for freedom….

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

“Citizenship in a Republic,”
Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910

You liberals are great at sitting on the sideline and whining…and whining…and whining…and whining some more.
But you never stick you neck out, you send our young men in to do your job, then you turn your back on them.
President Bush did not turn his back on our military…USS Cole, or letting our men sit for 400+ days in jail, or pull out and leave our men on the beachhead to die, or not pulling the trigger on Osama…those were liberal democrat “leaders”…the kind that whiners support…

right2bright on September 21, 2009 at 11:13 AM

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

The explain why Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and a majority of Democrats in the House and Senate voted for the AUMF in Iraq??

rockmom on September 21, 2009 at 11:13 AM

Voting present= US military service people die.

Obama didn’t start this fight, but it’s a fight he can win. But, then again, he’s never fought anything before, except the dreaded Bush memory. Obama only fights things he’s sure to win–strawmen, special olympics kids, faceless foot rustlin’ doctors, and pigs with lipstick. Outside of that, he’s a great military commander.

ted c on September 21, 2009 at 11:13 AM

Your side – elected representative wise, anyway – voted pretty strongly in favor of Iraq as well.

BadgerHawk on September 21, 2009 at 11:15 AM

So, defend the Bush Afghanistan strategy….

Bleeds Blue on September 21, 2009 at 11:01 AM

Bush isn’t the president, the CINC, Obama is the “one”, you know the one who turned his back on Poland…

right2bright on September 21, 2009 at 11:15 AM

The explain why Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and a majority of Democrats in the House and Senate voted for the AUMF in Iraq??

rockmom on September 21, 2009 at 11:13 AM

Thank you.

BadgerHawk on September 21, 2009 at 11:15 AM

This WILL break him.

He will abandon the troops, and the mushy middle will abandon Obama.

Khorum on September 21, 2009 at 11:16 AM

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

Yet apparently not smart enough to vote against the funding of the Iraq war to try and keep it from occurring or continuing. Sounds as if they made a political decision without regard to the lives of American soldiers.

Bishop on September 21, 2009 at 11:16 AM

Voting present= US military service people die.

Obama didn’t start this fight, but it’s a fight he can win. But, then again, he’s never fought anything before, except the dreaded Bush memory. Obama only fights things he’s sure to win–strawmen, special olympics kids, faceless foot rustlin’ doctors, and pigs with lipstick. Outside of that, he’s a great military commander.

ted c on September 21, 2009 at 11:13 AM

He can’t fix this with a bunch of speeches or throwing the race card. Those seem to be his only real weapons.

rockmom on September 21, 2009 at 11:16 AM

nyx on September 21, 2009 at 11:09 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 think everyone can acknowledge that mistakes have been made by both Democrats and Republicans regarding Afghanistan as far back as the Carter administration. Bickering over who’s the bigger f*ck up is a waste of time. The important thing is that Obama listens to his generals, and gives our soldiers the support necessary for victory.

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

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