Commentary Magazine


Topic: McChrystal

The Worst Column of the Year So Far

Maureen Dowd today:

Military guys are rarely as smart as they think they are, and they’ve never gotten over the fact that civilians run the military.

That sentence should be amended to: “Newspaper columnists are rarely as smart as they think they are…”

Dowd goes on to say that the Rolling Stone profile

was a product of the warrior-god culture, four-star generals with their own public-relations teams, that came from Gen. David Petraeus. And the towel-snapping was intensified by the fact that McChrystal used to be a tough special-ops, under-cover-of-the-night, rules-don’t-apply-to-us military guy.

Or maybe it was just a boneheaded series of mistakes made by Gen. McChrystal and his aides.

As for the “towel-snapping” nature of the military culture, whatever its sins, it isn’t a hundredth as self-satisfied as the liberal-newsroom culture in which Maureen Dowd has enthroned herself. And in its ethic of sacrifice and dedication to service, that culture ennobles those who commit themselves to it — unlike the culture from which this column emanates, which is rotting away, and justifiably.

Maureen Dowd today:

Military guys are rarely as smart as they think they are, and they’ve never gotten over the fact that civilians run the military.

That sentence should be amended to: “Newspaper columnists are rarely as smart as they think they are…”

Dowd goes on to say that the Rolling Stone profile

was a product of the warrior-god culture, four-star generals with their own public-relations teams, that came from Gen. David Petraeus. And the towel-snapping was intensified by the fact that McChrystal used to be a tough special-ops, under-cover-of-the-night, rules-don’t-apply-to-us military guy.

Or maybe it was just a boneheaded series of mistakes made by Gen. McChrystal and his aides.

As for the “towel-snapping” nature of the military culture, whatever its sins, it isn’t a hundredth as self-satisfied as the liberal-newsroom culture in which Maureen Dowd has enthroned herself. And in its ethic of sacrifice and dedication to service, that culture ennobles those who commit themselves to it — unlike the culture from which this column emanates, which is rotting away, and justifiably.

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No Way to Run a War

It seems that even on Afghanistan, arguably the high point of Obama’s foreign policy to date (everything in politics is relative), things are not going smoothly. Jamie Fly observes: “With the president having decided to send Gen. McChrystal the bulk of the additional forces he requested, one would think that all is settled, right? Well, it seems that key White House officials don’t think so. They continue to snipe at Gen. McChrystal as he sets out to implement the strategy that the president announced at West Point on December 1.”

First we saw Joe Biden denying that the president had adopted an insurgency strategy and reinforcing the notion that a withdrawal in 18 months would amount to a quick drawdown in forces, not at all what McChrystal, Hillary Clinton, and Robert Gates had explained. Fly notes another round of leaking via the New York Times in which it appears that “White House officials are supposedly upset because an essential component of a fast drawdown in 2011 is getting the initial surge there as soon as possible to begin to make progress. The Pentagon agrees with the need to make progress quickly, but is dealing with real-world logistical challenges of implementing what is essentially a politically-imposed timeline.” Fly concludes that the ever-so-helpful Joe Biden is up to no good:

It seems that Biden et al. are still frustrated that the lost the battle during the Afghanistan policy review (Biden was also on the losing side of the first review back in March as well) and are looking for ways to further their agenda and sow doubt about what can be accomplished prior to July 2011.

This illustrates several unfortunate aspects of the Obama White House, the first being Joe Biden. Yes, he’s Obama’s choice and he’s proved to be a gaffe machine, a policy disaster, and the source of much angst. (Do we think Hillary is betting he’ll be bounced in 2012? ) But more fundamentally, it shows that the president often seems to be a bystander in his own administration. Where is his forceful follow-up on the West Point speech? Why wasn’t he reinforcing McChrystal’s position. Well, recall that no sooner had he delivered the West Point address than he was on 60 Minutes bad-mouthing triumphalism and emphasizing that he didn’t much care for those open-ended commitments. So really, if there’s a vacuum in presidential leadership, we shouldn’t be surprised to see it filled by Biden or others.

And finally, we see how very hard it is for the White House to turn that corner that many conservatives keep spotting. Obama really is stepping up to the plate and embracing the job of commander in chief, we were told. But it’s never quite clear that his heart is in it. He described Afghanistan as “a critical war” . . . but . . . it’s also one the president keeps telling us has a time frame. Obama has backed his military advisers over political flunkies . . . but . . .  he can’t manage to keep the latter under wraps.

If Obama appears to domestic observers to be both conflicted and peripheral in the decision-making process for a “critical” battleground in the war against Islamic fascists, how must all this appear to our Afghan partners? Or to our enemies? Once again, Obama seems to have convinced himself that all that was required on this issue was a single decision and a speech. But of course, being commander in chief requires much more. It entails an ongoing process of rallying the country, explaining our mission, tamping down infighting, publicly supporting our military commanders, and assuring friends and foes that we’re committed to victory. Unfortunately, Obama seems to have other things to do. The country and his own image will suffer as a result.

It seems that even on Afghanistan, arguably the high point of Obama’s foreign policy to date (everything in politics is relative), things are not going smoothly. Jamie Fly observes: “With the president having decided to send Gen. McChrystal the bulk of the additional forces he requested, one would think that all is settled, right? Well, it seems that key White House officials don’t think so. They continue to snipe at Gen. McChrystal as he sets out to implement the strategy that the president announced at West Point on December 1.”

First we saw Joe Biden denying that the president had adopted an insurgency strategy and reinforcing the notion that a withdrawal in 18 months would amount to a quick drawdown in forces, not at all what McChrystal, Hillary Clinton, and Robert Gates had explained. Fly notes another round of leaking via the New York Times in which it appears that “White House officials are supposedly upset because an essential component of a fast drawdown in 2011 is getting the initial surge there as soon as possible to begin to make progress. The Pentagon agrees with the need to make progress quickly, but is dealing with real-world logistical challenges of implementing what is essentially a politically-imposed timeline.” Fly concludes that the ever-so-helpful Joe Biden is up to no good:

It seems that Biden et al. are still frustrated that the lost the battle during the Afghanistan policy review (Biden was also on the losing side of the first review back in March as well) and are looking for ways to further their agenda and sow doubt about what can be accomplished prior to July 2011.

This illustrates several unfortunate aspects of the Obama White House, the first being Joe Biden. Yes, he’s Obama’s choice and he’s proved to be a gaffe machine, a policy disaster, and the source of much angst. (Do we think Hillary is betting he’ll be bounced in 2012? ) But more fundamentally, it shows that the president often seems to be a bystander in his own administration. Where is his forceful follow-up on the West Point speech? Why wasn’t he reinforcing McChrystal’s position. Well, recall that no sooner had he delivered the West Point address than he was on 60 Minutes bad-mouthing triumphalism and emphasizing that he didn’t much care for those open-ended commitments. So really, if there’s a vacuum in presidential leadership, we shouldn’t be surprised to see it filled by Biden or others.

And finally, we see how very hard it is for the White House to turn that corner that many conservatives keep spotting. Obama really is stepping up to the plate and embracing the job of commander in chief, we were told. But it’s never quite clear that his heart is in it. He described Afghanistan as “a critical war” . . . but . . . it’s also one the president keeps telling us has a time frame. Obama has backed his military advisers over political flunkies . . . but . . .  he can’t manage to keep the latter under wraps.

If Obama appears to domestic observers to be both conflicted and peripheral in the decision-making process for a “critical” battleground in the war against Islamic fascists, how must all this appear to our Afghan partners? Or to our enemies? Once again, Obama seems to have convinced himself that all that was required on this issue was a single decision and a speech. But of course, being commander in chief requires much more. It entails an ongoing process of rallying the country, explaining our mission, tamping down infighting, publicly supporting our military commanders, and assuring friends and foes that we’re committed to victory. Unfortunately, Obama seems to have other things to do. The country and his own image will suffer as a result.

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Flawed Methodology

CIA operations on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border suffered a significant setback last week when seven Agency officers were killed and another six badly injured in a suicide bombing apparently perpetrated by one of the Agency’s local informants. (Hot Air has a good summary here.)

The attack at Chapman Base means both more and less than it seems to. This is unquestionably an important operational setback, but it’s also in the nature of campaigns against insurgencies to produce incidents like this one. Relying on informants who may turn out to be duplicitous is often dictated by circumstance, something we learned quite thoroughly in Vietnam; and Central Asia has been notorious for such local informants throughout the history of the West’s interactions there.

Still, the features of this attack should give us pause. It was timed to take place when the CIA’s base commander would be present: according to a Taliban chief, the bombing was meant as retaliation for U.S. drone strikes on Taliban leaders. This development is emblematic of the position in which U.S. forces will increasingly find themselves wherever our antiterrorism posture shifts to greater reliance on standoff strikes. The position is ultimately untenable: in order to acquire the necessary targeting intelligence we must have operatives on the ground using local contacts, and therefore be perpetually vulnerable to attacks like the one at Chapman Base. But with each drone strike, the likelihood of retaliatory attempts on our intelligence assets increases.

A key lesson from both Vietnam and Iraq, articulated by General McChrystal in his August 2009 recommendation, is that populations are not won over until they have a trustworthy civil infrastructure in which they feel safe. In its absence, we have no prospect of being able to fully trust local informants in the AfPak border region. Even the most reliable informant may submit to extortion if his family is threatened. The results are likely to include misleading intelligence as well as physical threats to our operatives. The CIA can take precautions, of course, meeting its informants off-base and avoiding large gatherings like the one last week. But that will merely make the insurgents work a little harder to bring off assassinations.

We can only speculate as to why this attack wasn’t mounted until December 2009. Given Obama’s accelerated dependence on drone attacks and his general security posture, an obvious possibility is that Taliban leaders calculate now, as they did not before, that this is the most efficient means of targeting both our strategy and our will. The insistence of the Obama administration on the notion that its goal in Afghanistan is not to win the populace over according to the counterinsurgency model favored by McChrystal, means the situation for our forces in remote areas will not improve. Nor do we have any intention of improving it. Keep that in mind as 2010 unfolds. More such attempts by the Taliban are likely, but that will not mean we have encountered an insoluble problem. It will merely mean we have chosen the wrong method.

CIA operations on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border suffered a significant setback last week when seven Agency officers were killed and another six badly injured in a suicide bombing apparently perpetrated by one of the Agency’s local informants. (Hot Air has a good summary here.)

The attack at Chapman Base means both more and less than it seems to. This is unquestionably an important operational setback, but it’s also in the nature of campaigns against insurgencies to produce incidents like this one. Relying on informants who may turn out to be duplicitous is often dictated by circumstance, something we learned quite thoroughly in Vietnam; and Central Asia has been notorious for such local informants throughout the history of the West’s interactions there.

Still, the features of this attack should give us pause. It was timed to take place when the CIA’s base commander would be present: according to a Taliban chief, the bombing was meant as retaliation for U.S. drone strikes on Taliban leaders. This development is emblematic of the position in which U.S. forces will increasingly find themselves wherever our antiterrorism posture shifts to greater reliance on standoff strikes. The position is ultimately untenable: in order to acquire the necessary targeting intelligence we must have operatives on the ground using local contacts, and therefore be perpetually vulnerable to attacks like the one at Chapman Base. But with each drone strike, the likelihood of retaliatory attempts on our intelligence assets increases.

A key lesson from both Vietnam and Iraq, articulated by General McChrystal in his August 2009 recommendation, is that populations are not won over until they have a trustworthy civil infrastructure in which they feel safe. In its absence, we have no prospect of being able to fully trust local informants in the AfPak border region. Even the most reliable informant may submit to extortion if his family is threatened. The results are likely to include misleading intelligence as well as physical threats to our operatives. The CIA can take precautions, of course, meeting its informants off-base and avoiding large gatherings like the one last week. But that will merely make the insurgents work a little harder to bring off assassinations.

We can only speculate as to why this attack wasn’t mounted until December 2009. Given Obama’s accelerated dependence on drone attacks and his general security posture, an obvious possibility is that Taliban leaders calculate now, as they did not before, that this is the most efficient means of targeting both our strategy and our will. The insistence of the Obama administration on the notion that its goal in Afghanistan is not to win the populace over according to the counterinsurgency model favored by McChrystal, means the situation for our forces in remote areas will not improve. Nor do we have any intention of improving it. Keep that in mind as 2010 unfolds. More such attempts by the Taliban are likely, but that will not mean we have encountered an insoluble problem. It will merely mean we have chosen the wrong method.

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Obama’s Afghan Incoherence

Amid the (much justified) focus on the administration’s mishandling of the underwear-bomber, this Washington Post article, which appeared the day after Christmas, hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves. It focuses on the administration’s mishandling of Afghanistan. Reporter Rajiv Chandrasekaran reveals a deep disconnect between certain politicos in the White House, on the one hand, and, on the other, the military and Defense Department, regarding what exactly our policy toward Afghanistan is. The West Point address was supposed to settle all that, but it only added to the confusion. Chandrasekaran writes:

Members of Obama’s war cabinet disagree over the meaning of his pledge to begin drawing down forces in July 2011 and whether the mission has been narrowed from a proposal advanced by McChrystal in his August assessment of the war. The disagreements have opened a fault line between a desire for an early exit among several senior officials at the White House and a conviction among military commanders that victory is still achievable on their terms.

The most obvious confusion surrounds the 2011 deadline that was opposed by Generals McChrystal and Petraeus as well as by Secretary of Defense Bob Gates but was pushed by Vice President Joe Biden and the president himself. Both supporters and opponents are rushing to put their spin on the policy:

Gates, appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press” the Sunday after the speech, said that perhaps only “some handful or some small number” would be withdrawn. Biden, during his MSNBC appearance last week, said a chart showing an increase in U.S. deployments this year would be “coming down as rapidly over the next two years.”

Both men can’t be right. The only one who knows for sure which is correct is Obama himself and he isn’t saying, perhaps because he is leaving his options open. But by putting the deadline out there at all, the president is fostering the view among our friends and allies in the region that we’re on the way out. Only he can refute that impression, and to date he hasn’t. That, in turn, makes it much harder for the troops to get the job done.

Then there is the confusion over exactly what our troops are doing. Apparently some White House officials think that they have circumscribed the troops’ mission so that McChrystal won’t be doing full-spectrum counterinsurgency — which is the only way to win (a word the president refuses to use). The article notes that Biden told MSNBC: “The strategy has fundamentally changed. This is not a COIN strategy.” But McChrystal is still planning to carry out a counterinsurgency in the east and south — and rightly so.

Which leaves the entire world wondering what exactly we’re up to. The Post account includes this telling quote:

“Is the surge a way of helping us leave more quickly, or is the timeline a way to help win support for the surge?” asked a senior Democratic staff member in Congress. “Which is the strategy and which is the head-fake? Nobody knows.”

Unfortunately, I’m not sure Obama himself knows which is the strategy and which is the head fake. He seems fundamentally ambivalent about the war in Afghanistan — as he is about the war on terror and most other military endeavors — and that ambivalence is reflected in the form of policy incoherence.

Amid the (much justified) focus on the administration’s mishandling of the underwear-bomber, this Washington Post article, which appeared the day after Christmas, hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves. It focuses on the administration’s mishandling of Afghanistan. Reporter Rajiv Chandrasekaran reveals a deep disconnect between certain politicos in the White House, on the one hand, and, on the other, the military and Defense Department, regarding what exactly our policy toward Afghanistan is. The West Point address was supposed to settle all that, but it only added to the confusion. Chandrasekaran writes:

Members of Obama’s war cabinet disagree over the meaning of his pledge to begin drawing down forces in July 2011 and whether the mission has been narrowed from a proposal advanced by McChrystal in his August assessment of the war. The disagreements have opened a fault line between a desire for an early exit among several senior officials at the White House and a conviction among military commanders that victory is still achievable on their terms.

The most obvious confusion surrounds the 2011 deadline that was opposed by Generals McChrystal and Petraeus as well as by Secretary of Defense Bob Gates but was pushed by Vice President Joe Biden and the president himself. Both supporters and opponents are rushing to put their spin on the policy:

Gates, appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press” the Sunday after the speech, said that perhaps only “some handful or some small number” would be withdrawn. Biden, during his MSNBC appearance last week, said a chart showing an increase in U.S. deployments this year would be “coming down as rapidly over the next two years.”

Both men can’t be right. The only one who knows for sure which is correct is Obama himself and he isn’t saying, perhaps because he is leaving his options open. But by putting the deadline out there at all, the president is fostering the view among our friends and allies in the region that we’re on the way out. Only he can refute that impression, and to date he hasn’t. That, in turn, makes it much harder for the troops to get the job done.

Then there is the confusion over exactly what our troops are doing. Apparently some White House officials think that they have circumscribed the troops’ mission so that McChrystal won’t be doing full-spectrum counterinsurgency — which is the only way to win (a word the president refuses to use). The article notes that Biden told MSNBC: “The strategy has fundamentally changed. This is not a COIN strategy.” But McChrystal is still planning to carry out a counterinsurgency in the east and south — and rightly so.

Which leaves the entire world wondering what exactly we’re up to. The Post account includes this telling quote:

“Is the surge a way of helping us leave more quickly, or is the timeline a way to help win support for the surge?” asked a senior Democratic staff member in Congress. “Which is the strategy and which is the head-fake? Nobody knows.”

Unfortunately, I’m not sure Obama himself knows which is the strategy and which is the head fake. He seems fundamentally ambivalent about the war in Afghanistan — as he is about the war on terror and most other military endeavors — and that ambivalence is reflected in the form of policy incoherence.

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One Word from Obama Can Rejuvenate Troop Morale — “Victory”

I recently chatted with some U.S. Army Special Forces troops who had served last year in Afghanistan. Green Berets are usually gung-ho, but these guys seemed a bit worn down and pessimistic about the situation. They complained that Afghan troops aren’t willing to back them up in the hardest fights and praised instead the militiamen they hire to guard their own compounds — part of the tribal forces that the Special Forces (and CIA) have been using for years. Above all they talked of how little they could do in the vast landscape of Afghanistan. Special Forces deploy in 12-man A Teams, and when they were in Afghanistan, often they had little or no backup from other coalition forces. The “snake eaters” are super soldiers, but there is only so much that a dozen of them can do in such a hostile and punishing environment.

Listening to their conversation took me back to similar conversations I had with other U.S. troops about Iraq. From 2003 to 2007 I heard troops who were increasingly dispirited by the daunting challenge of trying to pacify Iraq without a good strategy or enough troops. All that changed in 2007, when the surge gave a newfound sense of purpose to the men and women on the ground while also convincing the Iraqis that the U.S. was out to win the war. That boost to morale was an important component of the surge’s success, and it is something that President Obama should keep in mind as he gets ready to announce his policy on Afghanistan.

If he sends substantially fewer troops than Gen. McChrystal wants, he risks perpetuating the sense of malaise reflected by these Green Berets, who knew that they were essentially fighting a holding action without the capacity to achieve decisive results. Obama had better use his televised talk to the nation not only to announce a robust reinforcement package but also to make clear that he expects the troops to defeat the Taliban — not to prepare the way for a rapid “exit strategy.” No one wants to risk his or her life to secure a more expeditious withdrawal. If we’re going to commit more troops — and we should — the only proper objective is victory. That is a word that has been missing so far from Obama’s vocabulary. I hope it is not MIA on Tuesday night.

I recently chatted with some U.S. Army Special Forces troops who had served last year in Afghanistan. Green Berets are usually gung-ho, but these guys seemed a bit worn down and pessimistic about the situation. They complained that Afghan troops aren’t willing to back them up in the hardest fights and praised instead the militiamen they hire to guard their own compounds — part of the tribal forces that the Special Forces (and CIA) have been using for years. Above all they talked of how little they could do in the vast landscape of Afghanistan. Special Forces deploy in 12-man A Teams, and when they were in Afghanistan, often they had little or no backup from other coalition forces. The “snake eaters” are super soldiers, but there is only so much that a dozen of them can do in such a hostile and punishing environment.

Listening to their conversation took me back to similar conversations I had with other U.S. troops about Iraq. From 2003 to 2007 I heard troops who were increasingly dispirited by the daunting challenge of trying to pacify Iraq without a good strategy or enough troops. All that changed in 2007, when the surge gave a newfound sense of purpose to the men and women on the ground while also convincing the Iraqis that the U.S. was out to win the war. That boost to morale was an important component of the surge’s success, and it is something that President Obama should keep in mind as he gets ready to announce his policy on Afghanistan.

If he sends substantially fewer troops than Gen. McChrystal wants, he risks perpetuating the sense of malaise reflected by these Green Berets, who knew that they were essentially fighting a holding action without the capacity to achieve decisive results. Obama had better use his televised talk to the nation not only to announce a robust reinforcement package but also to make clear that he expects the troops to defeat the Taliban — not to prepare the way for a rapid “exit strategy.” No one wants to risk his or her life to secure a more expeditious withdrawal. If we’re going to commit more troops — and we should — the only proper objective is victory. That is a word that has been missing so far from Obama’s vocabulary. I hope it is not MIA on Tuesday night.

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Obama’s Extraordinary Irresponsibility

I wanted to follow up on the comments by Jennifer and Max regarding President Obama’s seeming inability to make a decision on General McChrystal’s request for more troops in Afghanistan. To put things in context: the McChrystal report was sent to the Obama administration at the end of August. McChrystal was emphatic in his 66-page request: “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.”

According to our commanding general in Afghanistan, then, we have a window of 12 months to regain the initiative or we risk losing the war. We are now approaching the middle of November — two and a half months after McChrystal’s request — and based on media reports, President Obama does not plan to accept any of the Afghanistan war options presented by his national-security team. If true — and I know from my time in the White House that what is reported sometimes reflects, rather than the thinking of the president,  the views of aides trying to influence a decision via public leaks  — this is both stunning and reckless. As one person pointed out to me, the same president who wants to ram through health-care legislation, despite the fact that we don’t face a health-care emergency, seems unable to settle on a hugely consequential, time-sensitive decision in the midst of a war.

I have not begrudged President Obama the time to carefully think through a decision on Afghanistan — but this is ridiculous. This issue should have been front and center for the administration the moment it was clear Obama won the presidency. He has already presented (in March) his “new” strategy for Afghanistan. The fact that he wants to revisit his decision may be understandable, except for the fact that his foot-dragging is now harming us. Sometimes presidents are forced to make decisions based on external events and pressing outside needs. “The public life of every political figure is a continual struggle to rescue an element of choice from the pressure of circumstance,” Henry Kissinger wrote in the first volume of his memoirs, White House Years. Governing the nation does not afford you the luxuries you have when conducting a college seminar.

President Obama not only needs to make a decision soon; once he does, assuming he does, we face the logistical challenges of getting the troops in place. Precious time has already been lost. If after all the time that’s been lost, Obama is now jettisoning all the options he has been presented with, including the McChrystal option, then what we are witnessing is extraordinarily irresponsible. Sometimes you can lose a war by not choosing. And that is the path we may well be on right now, if media reports are correct.

President Obama needs to get a grip on this process soon. Decisions need to be made and a war needs to be won.

I wanted to follow up on the comments by Jennifer and Max regarding President Obama’s seeming inability to make a decision on General McChrystal’s request for more troops in Afghanistan. To put things in context: the McChrystal report was sent to the Obama administration at the end of August. McChrystal was emphatic in his 66-page request: “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.”

According to our commanding general in Afghanistan, then, we have a window of 12 months to regain the initiative or we risk losing the war. We are now approaching the middle of November — two and a half months after McChrystal’s request — and based on media reports, President Obama does not plan to accept any of the Afghanistan war options presented by his national-security team. If true — and I know from my time in the White House that what is reported sometimes reflects, rather than the thinking of the president,  the views of aides trying to influence a decision via public leaks  — this is both stunning and reckless. As one person pointed out to me, the same president who wants to ram through health-care legislation, despite the fact that we don’t face a health-care emergency, seems unable to settle on a hugely consequential, time-sensitive decision in the midst of a war.

I have not begrudged President Obama the time to carefully think through a decision on Afghanistan — but this is ridiculous. This issue should have been front and center for the administration the moment it was clear Obama won the presidency. He has already presented (in March) his “new” strategy for Afghanistan. The fact that he wants to revisit his decision may be understandable, except for the fact that his foot-dragging is now harming us. Sometimes presidents are forced to make decisions based on external events and pressing outside needs. “The public life of every political figure is a continual struggle to rescue an element of choice from the pressure of circumstance,” Henry Kissinger wrote in the first volume of his memoirs, White House Years. Governing the nation does not afford you the luxuries you have when conducting a college seminar.

President Obama not only needs to make a decision soon; once he does, assuming he does, we face the logistical challenges of getting the troops in place. Precious time has already been lost. If after all the time that’s been lost, Obama is now jettisoning all the options he has been presented with, including the McChrystal option, then what we are witnessing is extraordinarily irresponsible. Sometimes you can lose a war by not choosing. And that is the path we may well be on right now, if media reports are correct.

President Obama needs to get a grip on this process soon. Decisions need to be made and a war needs to be won.

Read Less




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