The Washington Post‘s editors deliver an indictment of the Joe Biden war-on-the-cheap alternative to Gen. Stanley McChyrstal’s counterinsurgency plan:
The White House’s Plan B would mainly amount to refusing Gen. McChrystal most of the additional U.S. troops he has requested — thereby saving the president a decision that would anger his political base. Instead of aiming to reverse the Taliban’s momentum in the next year, as Gen. McChrystal proposed, the idea would be to rapidly build the Afghan army so that it could take over the fight and to focus U.S. initiatives on defeating al-Qaeda in Pakistan.
But that’s been tried before, they remind us. It would merely “repeat the strategic errors of the Bush administration — mistakes that left the mess the new administration is facing in Afghanistan and that brought Iraq to the brink of catastrophe three years ago.”
It does seem to be an exercise in collective amnesia. Obama, Biden, and Hillary Clinton were all in the Senate during the failed light-footprint approach to Iraq and watched the surge, which they opposed, bring about the results Gen. David Petraues had predicted. All three campaigned for president as they critiqued the lack of resources devoted to the “good war.” So it surely couldn’t have escaped their notice that Biden’s counterterrorism high-tech gambit has already been shown to be defective. The Bush team — which made the right call — didn’t have the benefit of experience, but the Obama team does. They have seen this argument play out.
We therefore return to the real issue: Will the president do what is needed to win the war? The Post‘s editors sum up:
The question that remains is whether Mr. Obama will prefer the risk of defeat that the general outlined to the costs of sending tens of thousands of more American forces. The latter course does not guarantee success by any means, but the former is a proven loser.
It continues to baffle and horrify many, given what we have gone through in two wars, that this is even an open question. But in the Obama administration, historical experience, arguments on the merits, and facts count for comparatively little. If it were otherwise, McChrystal would already have his orders.