Archive for the ‘McChrystal’ Category

I thought this piece on the Afghanistan decision-making was truly excellent:

We have known for a while that the administration’s Afghanistan deliberations were taking too long. Now we know why, and the explanation is not pretty.

First, it was a month until Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, Obama’s commander in the Afghan theater and author of the plan being considered by the administration, was brought into the discussions. McChrystal presented his plan in August and the White House began its deliberations during the second week of September. Yet, McChrystal was not consulted until Oct. 8.

Second, when the White House war planners finally talked to McChrystal, they discovered he was not on the same page as the administration. McChrystal said his plan was designed to “defeat the Taliban and secure the population.” But key members of the White House team insisted that the mission should be to “degrade,” not defeat the Taliban.

McChrystal responded that defeating the Taliban was the mission he had been given in March. Obama agreed, but decided that the mission should be redefined, and the general’s plan adjusted accordingly.

In short, the decision on a plan of action was delayed because the White House waited a month before bringing McChrystal into the loop and, when the general finally was consulted, the White House decided it did not like the mission it had given him.

There’s a word for this — incompetence.

Speaking of flawed decision-making, however, Mr. Mirengoff ignores the assumptions of the Bush administration, namely, that the tribal and primitive Afghan people would respond positively to a decade-long American presence and an alien form of government. Obama and Bush both ignore the civilizational differences of the West and the Muslim world, as well as ignoring the ways Islam itself sustains the hopes and hates of our Islamic terrorist enemies.

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Lets be honest, what do you think bothered Obama more on an emotional level: Chicago’s loss of the Olympics or the loss of 8 American servicemen pursuing God-knows-what strategy in Afghanistan this week?

Say what you will of Bush. He may have been misguided, liberal, overly idealistic, and overly stubborn. But it’s clear that he took very seriously his responsibility to protect the United States from foreign terrorists and his concomitant duty to give our troops the resources, moral support, and serious attention that they deserved when in harm’s way. It is simply inconceivable war would be an afterthought for him. Obama, in the meantime, jets off to promote the Olympics, and only sees fit to meet his Afghanistan commander in order to woodshed him, in between more important matters, like praising Chicago for its “diversity.”

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Andrew McCarthy does a very good job of teasing out the willfully blind assumptions about Islam that permeate General McChrystal’s Afghanistan strategy. While Obama’s push-back on this strategy is likely rooted in crude politial calculation and general weakness, conservatives should not assume the converse: that McChrystal’s nation-building and troop build-up counsel is an effective one. McChrystal’s biggest source of confusion is the same as Bush’s, a confusion about nationalism, Islam, and our capacity for addressing root causes.

McCarthy writes:

When McChrystal is not getting Islam hopelessly wrong, he makes the fatal error of ignoring it — a mistake that has characterized U.S. strategic thinking for at least two decades. Thus he asserts, for example, that “the insurgents have two primary objectives: controlling the Afghan people and breaking the coalition’s will” — as if there were no rationale (besides the unremarkable tyrannical impulse) for “the insurgents” to behave this way. But the Taliban and its allies want to control the Afghan people in order to reinstitute what they see as the purified Islam of Mohammed’s Companions. They are not just “insurgents,” they are jihadists who see themselves as pursuing a divine commandment to impose Allah’s law. In a great many cases, they are doing so in their own country, and with the support and respect of many of their countrymen.

So while McChrystal is correct that a majority of Afghans (especially those who practice more moderate strains of Sufi Islam) rejects the Taliban, a sizable minority sympathizes.

I agree completely, and I would add that the McChrystal/Bush/Surge approach is similar to the liberal, 1960s approach to crime. We were told, “We can’t just arrest criminals and throw them in jail, we have to end poverty first.” How’s that working out?

The mistake in the case of Aghanistan and the War on Poverty is to think that we can’t deal with a problem other than by addressing a root cause, or that it’s always more efficient to address root causes rather than treat symptoms. Sometimes it’s most efficient to treat symptoms and mollify effects, and this is the meaning of such earth-shatteringly simple ideas like locking up criminals to stop crime or wearing a seatbelt to avoid injury in a car wreck.

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