Afghanistan Debate Now

I've got to bang this out and move on. I'm still obsessed, but I feel terrible with this promised post hanging over my head. Add in perfectionism and an avoidance coping mechanism and there is plenty of material for you armchair analysts out there.

On the day after the Washington Post leaked General McChrystal's report, the administration fought back with a leak of their own:
President Obama is exploring alternatives to a major troop increase in Afghanistan, including a plan advocated by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. to scale back American forces and focus more on rooting out Al Qaeda there and in Pakistan, officials said Tuesday. The options under review are part of what administration officials described as a wholesale reconsideration of a strategy the president announced with fanfare just six months ago. Two new intelligence reports are being conducted to evaluate Afghanistan and Pakistan, officials said.
The next day, McChrystal claims he isn't playing politics with his report and soon-to-be-released request for forces. The number of soldiers and marines is now known to be 30,000 to 40,000, at the top of the previously reported range. Then came word that Admiral Mullen and McChrystal "secretly" met on September 25th in Germany (my scare quotes). Is there any intrigue there? Who knows, I have to return to the narrative.

The next week, President Obama had a scheduled video conference with General McChrystal, and the current scuttlebutt was his lack of a relationship with the General:
Mr. Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, made a point of speaking with his Iraq commander roughly once a week at the height of the war there, a habit that forged a close working relationship between them even if it effectively bypassed the normal chain of command. Mr. Obama’s aides said he relied on General McChrystal’s advice but did not feel the need to duplicate Mr. Bush’s personal engagement with battlefield generals. Instead, they said, he receives weekly memos from General McChrystal and meets weekly with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The rest of the article plays up how dangerous it is to be distant from the general "on the ground." What a load of crock. I remember reading about how Bush-43's weekly video conferences were terrible for getting a straight story from Iraq. No general wants to tell a giant screen of the President's mug that things are going down the shitter. Plus, it fetishizes the war reports and enables the cowboy persona that Bush-43 had in spades. Obama is doing it exactly right. Whatever the outcomes of this administration, at least our government now has a policy process.

Also, I'll have to add Fred Kagan and Michael O'Hanlon to my neocon spreadsheet. Fred Kagan's brother and sister-in-law wrote the damn report! And you go to him for a quote? Another example of reporting "both sides for balance." Only the administration at one end of the balance, so the range is between cautious and incautious counterinsurgency advocates. Couldn't find anybody to the left of Vice President Biden on this topic? Well, you must not have looked.

Finally (applause), today's story sounds like insubordination to me, "McChrystal Rejects Lower Afghan Aims."
The top military commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, rejected calls for scaling down military objectives there on Thursday and said Washington did not have unlimited time to settle on a new strategy to pursue the eight-year-old war.

0 comments: