Friday, June 25, 2010

Afghanistan: becoming McChrystal clear

Thanks to the McChrystal blow up, the focus is back on Afghanistan, a deteriorating situation quickly joining everything else that's gone wrong with Obama's presidency.

Following McChrystal's dismissal, Secretary Gates said publicly that its "not going according to plan", but, he added, it doesn't mean it wont succeed eventually. One assumes the plan he is talking about is the plan Obama said was his plan that McChrystal was simply executing even though facts prove the opposite.

Regardless of whose plan it is, McChrystal had said it would take ten years to implement and make it work. Col. Jack Jacobs has said that McChrystal is right. It would take ten years for this plan to succeed. Obama gave McChrystal a year. Mostly because of politics. This is one of the deep policy differences between the two that the mainstream media and Obama pretend didn't exist.

Afghanistan is now a real mess. And what McChrystal's dismissal has focused on is the idea of leadership. Many are looking at McChrystals' dismissal as Obama showing leadership. What they dont want to acknowledge is that it was Obama's lack of leadership that was being criticized by McChrystal and his staff to begin with. The same lack of leadership from Obama that Democrats in congress complained about bitterly during the healthcare debate and now is universally acknowledged as a lack of leadership by Obama in responding to the Gulf spill a complaint still being made as recently as today.

Changing commanders is not going to fix where the real problem lies which is, as McChrystal undiplomatically pointed out, is at the top. As far McChrystal and his staff were concerned regarding the White House, no one was in charge.

So there is not only a mess in Afghanistan there has been a mess in terms of leadership and that mess didnt start with McChrystal and wont end with his dismissal even though there was really no choice but to dismiss him given the traditions and constitutional authority that exists between civilian and military.

But most of the problem is with Obama's policies and decision making. Which has been nothing more than to continue the policies of George W. Bush with one hand, while trying to soothe those opposed to the war with the other. Which is why, showing no leadership, he spoke out of both sides of his mouth at the same time when he announced an additional 30,000 troops and then in the next breath announced their withdrawal next July.

So far, all Obama has done is continue the policies of Bush who started the mess to begin with.

After 911, Bush diverted forces away from Afghanistan,the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and Bin Laden so he could invade Iraq for fabricated reasons the mainstream press were too timid to investigate and bring to light until it was too late.

To show how truly incompetent in strategic thinking Bush,Cheney and Rumsfeld really were, it never occurred to them that had they put all the forces necessary into Afghanistan in the first place and wiped out the Taliban and Al-Qaeda and captured Bin Laden ( which they could have done when Bin Laden was cornered in Tora Bora), Bush could have said to Saddam, "get out now or your next". With 100,000 troops in Afghanistan ready to invade, Saddam would have grabbed what he could and gotten out without a single loss of American life.

Richard Engel of NBC who knows Afghanistan better than anyone also says its a mess. And he cant see any way that the mission can possibly succeed. Because Obama has turned it into a "hearts and minds" mission. And that is asking soldiers to be something more than soldiers. If we are thereto achieve some military victory, like wiping out the Taliban completely, then let Obama say so and get on with it and then bring the troops home. But it doesn't seem to be that way.

You would think that with all the comparisons being made to Vietnam someone would point out that the "hearts and minds" strategy in Vietnam didn't work either.

Anti-insurgency and counter terrorism can be fought more effectively with far fewer numbers as experts have pointed out. Winning hearts and minds in the midst of what is called a corrupt Afghan government is not what an American solider is trained to do, and it wouldn't matter if there were 200,000 there instead of 100,000.

Obama likes to talk about the messes he inherited from the Republicans and they certainly did leave the country a lot to clean up. But Obama has been creating a few messes of his own that he hasnt been able to clean up, from a botched healthcare reform bill losing the public option, a weak finanical reform bill and a response to the Gulf spill that the people of Louisiana rated as worse than Bush's response to Katrina.

It's now apparant that Afghanistan is the latest.

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