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Gen. Jones Scoffs at Afghanistan “Surge” – Just Like Failed Iraq “Surge!”

posted at 8:16 pm on October 16, 2009 by

I had forgotten this, but President Barack H. Obama’s National Security Advisor, former Marine Corps Gen. Jim Jones, in Fall, 2007, called for an early abandonment of Gen. David Petraeus’ counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy in Iraq — just before it began to show significant progress that led, less than a year later, to a widely acknowledged victory:

In September 2007, Mr. Jones led a study that called for withdrawing forces, effectively ending President Bush’s troop surge. “Significant reductions, consolidations, and realignments would appear to be possible and prudent,” that report concluded.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Democrat Nevada, cited the Jones report as evidence that the troop surge had failed.

“It is discouraging that the president stubbornly claims his failed policy is working even as this latest report describes many Iraqi security forces as focused more on fostering civil war than on suppressing it,” he said.

Jones was doing the bidding of the anti-war Left then, and he appears to be doing the same now; in fact, like other lefties, he dismisses Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s own COIN recommendation for Afghanistan as nothing more than a troop increase, as opposed to a complete change of strategy:

In an interview with The Washington Times, the former Marine general and NATO commander acknowledged his views on Afghanistan have soured in the three years since he left the military. He said security in Afghanistan had deteriorated “because of the [U.S.] failure to see the interaction of security, development, and governance and rule of law.” [Darn that previous administration!]

“I think that is coming clear in spades now, that the failure — the tendency to focus so much on troop strength and not enough on the other factors, the development of the national Afghan police, for example which was on life support for so many years, the development of the Afghan National Army, which has never really gone fast enough – those are things that as we developed a strategy that was released in March were clearly highlighted. And now everybody is turning full-scale attention to them,” Mr. Jones said….

Mr. Jones told CNN on Sunday, “I think the end is much more complex than just about adding ‘X’ number of troops. Afghanistan is a country that’s quite large and that swallows up a lot of people.”

Despite his earlier study group’s warning that the war effort was in danger of faltering, he said on CNN, ” I don’t foresee the return of the Taliban and I want to be very clear that Afghanistan is not in imminent danger of falling.”

In 2006-7, the cry from the Left was that Iraq was unwinnable. It was the wrong war anyway; we should just declare defeat and yank out the troops, let Iraq go to hell in a handmaiden, and shift all those troops to Afghanistan — the war we should be fighting! As many have noted, to a liberal, whichever war we’re currently fighting is the wrong war; the only good war is the one we’re not fighting yet, or which ranks lower on the threat table.

Jones led a war-study group then that concluded the Afghanistan war (the one we should be fighting) was in danger of “faltering” and required many more troops; he opined that the Iraq “surge” had clearly failed, and we should pull troops out of Iraq and send them to Afghanistan… just what then Sen. Obama was saying, among many other liberal Democrats.

But now the Left (except for Cindy Sheehan) has largely abandoned opposition to the Iraq war — since we inconveniently won it — and instead focused its ire on Afghanistan… which has become the new “wrong war;” we should be focusing on Pakistan! Behold, Gen. Jones turns on a dime and clearly signals that we thinks we should not “surge” 40,000 troops, we should not switch to the previously successful COIN strategy, and we should not accept Gen. McChrystal’s recommendation.

Gone is “the interaction of security, development, and governance and rule of law;” it’s time to abandon the failed Afghanistan war and MoveOn.

Do we detect a pattern here?

It’s not clear whether Jones is himself an anti-war leftist, but it’s not uncommon for top generals to drift left as they progress up the heirarchy. It often seems that the bigger the command, the more the commandant “grows in office;” cf. Eric Shinseki, Anthony Zinni, and of course the ultimate recent example, Colin Powell. It’s not hard to explain; at the highest levels of command, a general or admiral is less like a military leader and more like a cabinet secretary. Those who head up gargantuan bureaucracies tend to believe in big-bureaucracy solutions to all problems… witness Powell insisting that we could not depose Saddam Hussein without a buildup of half a million troops.

Powell must have known that was impossible; thus, had his advice been accepted, we could not have invaded Iraq at all — which would have suited Powell (and Shinseki and Zinni, and probably Jones) just fine.

Does that make such a general a leftist? In the limited sense of having a more Eurocentric (or even more European) viewpoint, yes it does. The reason that European armies typically refuse to fight is that they can’t risk their soldiers’ lives on anything smaller than the tank battles of the North-Africa campaign. This fits well with the so-called Powell Doctrine: Never send troops unless it’s worth refighting World War II… which of course it never seems to be.

Too, James Jones became quite chummy with two senators in 2007: Hillary Clinton and Lindsey Graham (R-SC, 82%). Both follow the liberal line on war; Graham, for example, is further to the left on questions of terrorism intelligence than Sen. John McCain (R-AZ, 63%) (Graham’s higher ACU rating comes from policies unrelated to the war against the Iran/al-Qaeda axis). And of course, he twice refused Condoleezza Rice’s offer to become Deputy Secretary of State in the Bush administration but appears to have jumped at the chance to be National Security Advisor in the Obama Administration. Perhaps he just found being NSA more attractive than being a deputy secretary… but it’s hard not to conclude he found the current administration more congenial politically, as well.

I believe that the One chose Jim Jones as National Security Advisor precisely because of his willingness to accomodate the anti-war Left’s party line, no matter how many knots he must tie himself into; and if Jones wants to keep his job, he knows his duty: Rather than advise the president, he must echo whatever flippant argument Obama invokes against the war we’re actually fighting, preferring some hypothetical martial struggle somewhere else, at some future time (and preferably on some other president’s watch).

I believe Gen. Jones has already decided to keep his job.

Cross-posted to Big Lizards

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There are times when I’m glad to be closer to the end of life than to the beginning. Reading a blogger’s charge that a General Officer and former Commandant of the United States Marine Corps is a “lefty” because he is “chummy” with 2 United States Senators with whom the blogger disagrees, or that he is somehow tainted by his service as SACEUR is one of those times.

Let me remind you that one of those Senators, Lindsay Graham, is also a Reserve Officer who, when his unit was called up for deployment, left the cushy confines of the Senate for honorable service in Iraq.

When did we reach the point that a failure to correctly recite every jot and tittle of some political credo exposes even a man of long and honorable service to the nation to the risk of being denounced to the cadres at the next campfire?

Gen. Brute Krulak U.S.M.C. once wrote that America doesn’t need a Marine Corps. America has a Marine Corps because America wants a Marine Corps, And it wants a Marine Corps because Americans know that when trouble arises there are Marines somewhere who have kept themselves fit and ready to answer the call. And because Americans know that when Marines enter a fight they will turn in a superior performance, not sometimes, but always. These statements have remained true through our history because of men like Jim Jones.

Time will tell whether General Petraeus or General Jones is right about Afghanistan. But regardless of the outcome,let there be no doubt that both are patriots and honorable men.

potkas7 on October 17, 2009 at 6:49 AM

Hey potkas, how about adressing the issues and not using straw men? He was not called a lefty because he’s chummy with RINOs and you know that. He was wrong on Iraq, and is again clearly playing politics with afghanistan. He wants to give his masters support on cutting and running. His service may have been long and honorable in the past, but since when does that mean we cannot criticize them for dis-honorable service here and now?
Considering your defense of him and the dishonest way you did it, maybe it is a good thing you are near the end of your life.

Hard Right on October 18, 2009 at 9:48 PM

@hardright

Do you even know what a Strawman Argument is? You shouldn’t use words if you don’t know what they mean.

You do understand that it is the job of the National Security Advisor to advise the President in the formulation of defense and foreign policy, don’t you? I guess you could call that “playing politics,” but I would suggest that to do so shows an undeveloped understanding of how our government actually functions.

I am going to go out on a limb here and guess that despite your pounding out spittle-flecked venom and vituperation about cutting and running from Afghanistan, and accusing people you don’t know of dishonor and dishonesty, you’ve never actually been to Afghanistan yourself. I have. And I am concerned that I see the same type of strategic drifting and “Mission Creep” that I saw in Somalia. Based on my experience, if I were asked for advice, then I would side with General Petraeus’ approach, but I can understand Gen. Jones’ skepticism. I do not succumb to the temptation to seeing those who disagree with me as dishonorable.

Looking at the screen name you’ve chosen I am left with the impression that you are one of those who think that reflexively adopting a position in conformance with a perceived partisan template without thinking or examination makes you a “Conservative.” Let me disabuse you of that notion; it makes you a caricature. Maybe you should reflect on Justice Brandeis’ observation that the greatest threat to liberty comes not from an outside enemy but from folks such as yourself, “Full of zeal, but without understanding.”

potkas7 on October 19, 2009 at 9:09 AM