Patterico's Pontifications


Obama Receives McChrystal’s Troop Request

Filed under: Obama,Terrorism,War — DRJ @ 4:13 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The AP reports that President Obama asked last week for General McChrystal’s report containing his request for more troops in Afghanistan. The report has been delivered to Obama and he may discuss it with his advisers on Friday:

“The formal request by the nation’s top Afghanistan commander for more troops is now in President Barack Obama’s hands, administration officials said Wednesday as the war launched after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks reached its eight-year mark with no end in sight.

Obama was not expected to discuss the troop request at a meeting with war advisers Wednesday but was likely to do so on Friday.”

McChrystal reportedly wants 40,000 more troops for Afghanistan, but Obama is still considering his strategy:

“I think everybody is waiting for people to walk out of a room and give everyone a number,” [Press Secretary Robert] Gibbs told reporters, referring to a troop increase. “If you look at some of the coverage of what’s going on, there’s no discussion about the complexity of the problem, the multilayered aspects of it. That’s what we’re digging into.”

No discussion of the complexity? Tell that to Michael Yon and the folks at LongWarJournal, Stratfor, Strategy Page, and others.

Obama’s hesitation is compounded by reports that, for political reasons, he delayed the release of McChrystal’s report for over a month. (And for those who doubt this report is true: Explain to me how and why the Pentagan would refuse — for over a month — to forward the commanding general’s completed report if requested by the White House.) As a result, some assert Obama is moving too slow:

“The president has not shown his hand on troop increases. Obama has already added 21,000 troops this year, raising the total to 68,000.

Obama also gave no timetable for a decision during his meeting with lawmakers , which prompted at least one pointed exchange.

Inside the State Dining Room, where the meeting was held, Obama’s Republican opponent in last year’s presidential race, Sen. John McCain, told him he should not move at a “leisurely pace,” according to people in the room.

That comment later drew a sharp response from Obama, they said. Obama said no one felt more urgency than he did about the war, and there would be nothing leisurely about it.
“Half-measures is what I worry about,” McCain, R-Ariz., told reporters. He said Obama should follow recommendations from those in uniform and dispatch thousands of more troops to the country – similar to what President George W. Bush did during the 2008 troop “surge” in Iraq.”

I think President Obama wants to disengage from Afghanistan, and he may do that by redefining success to mean containing al Qaeda and acquiescing to Taliban rule.


76 Responses to “Obama Receives McChrystal’s Troop Request”

  1. I think President Obama wants to disengage from Afghanistan, and he may do that by redefining success to mean containing al Qaeda and acquiescing to Taliban rule.

    Can’t do the former is you do the latter. This is a pipe dream.

    Terry Gain (4045b4)

  2. if … only I had an editor

    Terry Gain (4045b4)

  3. This is a pipe dream

    Well, at least now we know what they’re smoking (and it’s not Chesterfield’s).

    AD - RtR/OS! (108af0)

  4. McCain, R-Ariz., told reporters.

    He makes me sick and it’s cause he’s passed his sell-by date so I wish he’d shut up and retire. Or retire and shut up. Either way.

    If not I hope he gets a robust primary challenge and loses. Loses big. Like a big loser.

    happyfeet (71f55e)

  5. You’ll be happy to know happy, that the good Senator is being challenged in the GOP Primary by the publisher/editor of the Tombstone Epitaph, Chris Simcox, more famously known for his involvement in the Minuteman Project.

    AD - RtR/OS! (108af0)

  6. I like the tone, DRJ.

    JD (2228b9)

  7. It gets confusing. Where does policy end and politics start?

    The Emperor (0c8c2c)

  8. o keeps trying to vote “present,” but McChrystal’s activity won’t let him.

    o has bought accountability for whatever happens in Afghanistan, good, bad or indifferent. It is his.

    Jim (582155)

  9. Why doesn’t he just ask our troops in the field to lay down their arms and surrender immediately? At least that way we’ll be spared the drip, drip drip of more casualties via ambushed convoys and garrisons.

    Dmac (5ddc52)

  10. But guys, Obama is being far more presidential than Bush by ignoring the commanders in the theaters. Mark Thompson of Time said so. Therefore it HAS to be true.

    SomeOtherSteve (d88371)

  11. Be honest folks. There are no good options out there. The real problem is the corrupt Afghanistan regime. As long as it has lost legitimacy and credibility with the Afghans, the Taliban will continue to wax stronger. A regime change is the best way to start. However that may be achieved. I don’t believe sending more men to die there is the best option. Karzai has to go.

    The Emperor (0c8c2c)

  12. acquiescing to Taliban rule.

    That is defeat, plain and simple. We entered afhanistan to defeath the Taliban. We’ve spend eight years and billions of dollars to train the Afghan people to resist the Taliban and govern themselves.

    If we pull out and tacitly accept Taliban rule, we failed. We will be Russia against the Mujahadeen.

    Steve B (5eacf6)

  13. Be honest folks. There are no good options out there.

    Uhh, in case you didn’t notice there were no good options on September 10, 2001. Or the days leading up to it.

    What happened the next day was the combined result of previous administrations discovering to their shock that there were no good options, so they did the least they thought they could get away with in the public eye. And frankly sometimes just engaging in meaningless theater to convince you they’re doing something. Because there is no way in hell they’re going to do what they know they’d have to do to actually deal with the problem.

    Classic example? Clinton would announce increased funding to US Special Operations Forces after various terror attacks through the ’90s. Why was this smoke and mirrors? Because his administration had already declared terrorism was a law enforcement matter. But upping funding to forces he’d never use sounded good on TV.

    There are no good options, and this fact is compounded because politicians never make the hard choices. They make the easy choices and try to make you think they made the hard choices. So the bad options that remain keep getting worse and worse.

    You’re just figuring out there are no good options?

    Well, don’t feel so bad. McChrystal has just told the same bad news to the Obama administration. Which the WaPo is reporting today had no clue what it was doing when it made counterinsurgency the central feature of its “new” strategy back in March. Of the bad options available, the counterinsurgency strategy is the most likely to succeed. But it’s still going to be difficult, risky, and costly.

    So now that the WaPo tells me the Obama admin has sticker shock its back to the drawing board to come up with a new “new” strategy that involves making the easier, more failure prone choice. And excuses and obfuscations.

    And so it comes as no surprise later, let me tell you there are only bad options available when it comes to North Korea, Iran, the Israeli/Palestinian confict, the budget deficit, etc.

    And no, there weren’t good options available when the evil Bush was “selected not elected” into office, either.

    He didn’t turn Afghanistan into a Al Qaeda safe haven, start the Korean war, found the state of Israel, or launch the Iranian revolution.

    Steve (a09663)

  14. McChrystal initially wanted 60,000 more troops but was instructed to ask only for 40,000. Plus, Obama has been fully aware of McCrystal’s analysis for several months but has been stalling in order to find some way to pass the buck. Obama really doesn’t want to send any more troops but he’s trapped by his own campaign promises, so he’s been reduced to dithering, ducking, and trying to double talk his way out of a tight spot. His absurd claims to the contrary are nothing more than whistling past the graveyard, and clear proof he’s not up to the job.

    ropelight (8ab8e3)

  15. Steve @13,
    At a point you were making a lot of sense then you began to trail off into a lot of confused and straw man talking points. What the f..k are you talking about?

    The Emperor (0c8c2c)

  16. Steve, for The Emperor, you have to be nuanced in plain English.

    AD - RtR/OS! (814db9)

  17. The Emperor, try reading it.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  18. Trust me, SPQR, I read it. Did you? Did you even read my comment? You know, the one Steve was responding to? If you did, do you have anything to say against it?

    The Emperor (0c8c2c)

  19. Saying “be honest, there are no good options” is right up there with observing the sun is hot and the ocean wet.

    By the time a national security decision reaches the President’s desk, only harsh choices remain.

    It is precisely for that reason that most administrations don’t take the hard decisions.

    And also which is why these things become decades long festering sores and real crises.

    When Barack Obama decides not to give McChrystal the resources to execute the strategy he thought he wanted back in March, Obama won’t even have the excuse that he’s forced to maintain a surge in Iraq. It will be because he simply doesn’t want to do it, now that McChrystal has laid out for him just how risky this best of bad options is.

    His main concern is to figure out a way to deny the request without looking like he’s snubbing his general.

    Now that he’s found out what a successful counterinsurgency would take, with no guarantee of success, he’s going to much prefer to put on ineffective but showy national security theater.

    A return to the more traditional kick-the-can-down-the-road approach while trying to appear effective is going to be a disaster. But that’s what we’re going to get.

    Steve (64ead5)

  20. @19
    I get your point Steve. But do you believe that sending more troops there to die without a clear strategy is the best course to take? Look, this goes way beyond just boots on ground. There is the issue of the taliban itslef. Can it be destroyed militarily? Do we even want to achieve that? Then there is the issue of Hamid Karzai’s legitimacy. Sending 40 or 50,000 soldiers is not going to be the silver bullet here. We need a more practical, achievable strategy. And this President knows that.

    The Emperor (0c8c2c)

  21. Barcky apparently decided to surrender. Coward.

    JD (30371c)

  22. Barcky apparently decided to surrender. Coward.

    How did you get that info? Or should I say where did you get it, JD? Or is that one of your jokes?

    The Emperor (0c8c2c)

  23. The Tollybawn are no longer our adversary, and we will allow them participation in governance. Joey Hairplugs is pushing our policy against the advise of the people that actually know WTF they are talking about, like the Generals.

    JD (b8912c)

  24. “…without a clear strategy…”

    As RR would say: There you go again!

    There is a clear strategy, it is just one that will be difficult to implement, and whose ultimate outcome is not assured without a 110% commitment to seeing it through; plus, it is probably one that you dislike.
    Hell, when having to chose the least bad option (which this very well could be) almost nobody likes what they have to do; but, it is something that they have to do.
    Do you think the men who stormed Omaha Beach wanted to get into those boats? Or out of them in the surf.
    It is what had to be done!
    Defeating A-Q, in all of its’ many faces, is something that has to be done, it will not be easy, and we won’t be “home for Christmas”.
    But, if we do it correctly, we will have a home to go home to.

    AD - RtR/OS! (814db9)

  25. I don’t joke about the feckless coward that is Barcky.

    JD (b8912c)

  26. Comment by AD – RtR/OS! — 10/8/2009 @ 7:26 pm

    Do you think the Taliban is our real enemy in Afghanistan?

    The Emperor (1b037c)

  27. The Taliban made it possible for The Base to have a base, so yes.

    DRJ (7fbae6)

  28. Comment by JD — 10/8/2009 @ 7:26 pm
    Did you also call it cowardice on Bush’s part when he did the same thing in Iraq? Clearly that was one of the major moves that made victory achievable there. Why is this different, JD?

    The Emperor (1b037c)

  29. Our enemy is that movement – IslamoFascism – who wish to kill us, and our way of life.
    So, I present the question to you:
    Are the Taliban the enemy?

    AD - RtR/OS! (814db9)

  30. Please flesh-out the similarities between what GWB did in Iraq, and what is being reported as BHO’s purported course of action in Afghanistan.

    AD - RtR/OS! (814db9)

  31. Comment by DRJ — 10/8/2009 @ 7:43 pm

    What would you suggest, DRJ? Kill all of them? Is that achievable with our limited resources? Is that wise? Or would it not be better to ask ourselves, who is our real enemy? Who launched an attack against us on 9/11? Who should we really be focused on capturing and killing? Why can’t we work with these lesser evils (the Taliban), while trying to destroy the real enemy. Just a thought.

    The Emperor (1b037c)

  32. Our enemy is that movement – IslamoFascism – who wish to kill us, and our way of life.
    i>Comment by AD – RtR/OS! — 10/8/2009 @ 7:46 pm

    That answer is neither here nor there, AD. Are we fighting against a real enemy that wants us all dead or are we fighting against an ideology? Fighting against an ideology is not a practical war. You surely can’t fight that with guns and bombs. You need ideas. Better ideas.

    The Emperor (1b037c)

  33. Limited resources? That’s laughable.

    You have absolutely no clue, The Emperor. Do you have any idea how many troops we have in Afghanistan? Do you have any idea how many troops the US put into Southeast Asia at the peak of that war?

    Limited resources … the only limited resources in play here are between your ears.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  34. Silly me. I thought we were fighting against a real enemy whose ideology is to want us all dead.

    Icy Texan (43c637)

  35. Oops, I got filtered. Sorry 😉

    JD (b8912c)

  36. Tell me, when the North went to War against the South armed with the ideology of ending slavery, did they fight with guns and bombs?

    When we engaged the Axis Powers to end Totalitarian Fascism, did we fight with guns and bombs?

    You have to come to the realization that there are things in this world worth fighting for, and evils demanding to be fought against.

    Time to grow up!

    AD - RtR/OS! (814db9)

  37. Wait. Is JD a sock puppet of Icy Texan? Is that allowed? Hmmm… 8)

    The Emperor (1b037c)

  38. Lovey – Who do you think is the enemy?

    daleyrocks (718861)

  39. Our objective is to keep Americans safe. You don’t have to wipe out your enemy but you need to destroy their ability or desire to strike at you. I don’t think the Taliban was a threat until they gained control of a State and could offer sanctuary and aid to groups that wanted to attack us. We drove them out and are hunting them. As a result they have not been able to strike at us in eight years. Does anyone believe that they have not wanted to do so? It is hard to plan an international attack when you are running and hiding for your life. Other countries are much less willing to support terrorist groups when they fear the US military will invade to stop it. Remember Libya’s calls of “I’m don’t know these guys!” in the first gulf war? He remembered the feel of American action and wanted no more of it.

    This is the mission of the military and they do it well if allowed to.

    Machinist (79b3ab)

  40. Comment by AD – RtR/OS! — 10/8/2009 @ 8:04 pm

    So you are saying that this war (the one in Afghanistan) will only be won militarily? Am I reading you correctly?

    The Emperor (1b037c)

  41. The Emperor:

    What would you suggest, DRJ?

    We didn’t start this fight but we have to finish it, which means sending more troops to maintain security and build support and infrastructure. As Ian Kelly said today, the Taliban is as much our enemy as al Qaeda is:

    The Taliban hosted and encouraged al-Qaida. And the attacks of September 11, 2001 were – the idea for them was hatched in the Taliban-run Afghanistan. So I think that we do see the Taliban as a threat to U.S. security for that reason.
    So I think the Taliban is a threat. I think al-Qaida is a threat. I think what we’re fighting there is this whole idea of destruction and mass murder in the name of religious extremism, and I would put them all in the same category. They’re carrying – they’re using the same tactics.

    DRJ (7fbae6)

  42. No, I didn’t say that;
    but, you cannot prevail if you can’t provide a secure environment for the indigenous population…which is what the surge in Iraq provided, and allowed for the political reconciliation between the parties there, and their unification against the foreign element attempting to undermine the attempt to establish a successful government.

    AD - RtR/OS! (814db9)

  43. #40,

    He did not say that. His examples are in fact good examples of the need for much more, but the fighting had to be won first.

    Machinist (79b3ab)

  44. Comment by Machinist — 10/8/2009 @ 8:09 pm

    Good point. But I think you are confusing A-Q with the Taliban. Yes the Taliban gave them support but they are not the real perpetrators of the attacks. Separating these two groups is crucial to winning this war. I think.

    The Emperor (1b037c)

  45. Chimperor – DRJ can confirm that Icy Texan and I are most certainly not the same people.

    JD (b8912c)

  46. Great minds think alike, Love.

    Icy Texan (43c637)

  47. The Taliban appointed Osama Bin Laden as Minister of Defense for Afghanistan in August of 2001.

    Lovie only continues to show his utter ignorance of every topic upon which he opines.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  48. JD and Icy Texan aren’t the same person, Emperor.

    DRJ (7fbae6)

  49. Our actions after WW2 in developing Democracies and rebuilding the economies of Germany and Japan, helped Western civilization recover and made them long term allies.

    How would this have been done without military force first?

    Machinist (79b3ab)

  50. And he’s exactly right: we are not the same person!

    One of us is a racist.

    Icy Texan (43c637)

  51. …even the Pentagon realizes, probably more strongly than the other parts of our government, that it takes a great deal of effort by other Departments of the government to attain success in Afghanistan.
    It will take an effort by the Dept of Agriculture to teach modern farming techniques to the Afghan farmers to hopefully wean them off of poppy;
    It will take an effort by Interior and State to bring modern government to Afghanistan;
    It will mean the posting of quite a few civilians to teach their Afghan counterparts what they need to know to function in the 21st-Century in an inter-connected world.
    None of this is possible without the security that only the Dept of Defense can provide; not NATO, not the Arab League, not the UN – but the boots of Soldiers and Marines (with support from their Air & Naval buddies).

    AD - RtR/OS! (814db9)

  52. I said the Taliban gave sanctuary and support to terrorist groups. That would be A-Q. I don’t see that we need to separate them as they are both our enemy and either would help the other. I would be happy to see them joined in death or obscurity until or unless they become civilized.

    Machinist (79b3ab)

  53. and their unification against the foreign element attempting to undermine the attempt to establish a successful government.

    Comment by AD – RtR/OS! — 10/8/2009 @ 8:14 pm

    Aha! My point exactly. You agree that winning over lesser enemies in Iraq helped to focus against the real enemy in Iraq. A-Q and Iranian elements. What we should ask ourselves is, does the Taliban have a stake in Afghanistan? Is it their country also?

    The Emperor (1b037c)

  54. See: Department of State Briefing on Afghanistan

    AD - RtR/OS! (814db9)

  55. Do conservatives have a stake in America? Is it their country also? Lots of dirty socialists have been saying no and no lately. A lot on MSNBC but other places too.

    Interesting parallel.

    happyfeet (6b707a)

  56. JD and Icy Texan aren’t the same person, Emperor.

    Comment by DRJ — 10/8/2009 @ 8:19 pm
    Thank you DRJ. Like Icy rightly pointed out, one of them is a racist who has no friends. :)
    Glad to see you again Icy. You have been missed.

    The Emperor (1b037c)

  57. That is quite possibly one of the silliest, most childish memes I have seen trotted out in quite some time. Mendoucheous twatwaffles like to stick together, apparently.

    JD (302d1f)

  58. Comment by AD – RtR/OS! — 10/8/2009 @ 8:21 pm

    The Emperor (1b037c)

  59. Our actions after WW2 in developing Democracies and rebuilding the economies of Germany and Japan, helped Western civilization recover and made them long term allies.

    How would this have been done without military force first?

    Comment by Machinist — 10/8/2009 @ 8:19 pm
    The only problem is that we have been using a lot of military force there. For close to nine years now. That hasn’t worked. We need a new strategy. One that works. Someone described madness as doing the same thing over again and expecting a different result.

    The Emperor (1b037c)

  60. You don’t think we have been successful?

    Have we been attacked here in the last eight years? Isn’t that what we went there for?

    Is Afghanistan still supporting attacks on us?

    Is Iraq still providing money, training, and support to terrorist groups?

    Just how long do you think it should take to transform these societies?

    Will pulling out and letting the bad guys move back in work better? This didn’t work after Vietnam, but you want to do it again? What was that definition?

    How do we avoid having to go back after the next attack?

    Machinist (79b3ab)

  61. I guess it is easier to quit and declare victory.

    JD (302d1f)

  62. My main problem with the war is that I think we should have been more forceful, putting more responsibility on them. “You set up a government that we can count on not to support terrorism or we will. Now tell us what you are going to do and what help you want from us.” I feel like we have been too “sensitive” and did not commit enough force. I admit I am no expert and may be full of it in this, but it is my impression. We have let them game us too much when we should have wielded the big stick. We told the Germans and Japanese what type of government we thought we needed them to have. We would not have allowed them to elect the militaristic leaders that led to the war.

    Machinist (79b3ab)

  63. Comment by Machinist — 10/8/2009 @ 9:05 pm

    You are mixing things up, Machinist. Was the war against Afghanistan or against A-Q? Who did we go there to look for in the first place? Have we caught him? Yes we have not been attacked since. But that is lowering the standard, don’t you think? Those who attacked us are still out there. Alive and well. And are willing to do so again if given the chance. That is not a thought that makes me feel secured.

    The Emperor (1b037c)

  64. JD,

    I fear this administration will agree. We will throw away the sacrifices already made and have to go back after the next 9/11.

    Machinist (79b3ab)

  65. #63,

    Clinton failed because he handled this as a law enforcement matter, catch the perp. You are doing the same.

    As far as I’m concerned we went there to end the threat to us. After being attacked about every 14 months under Clinton we have not been attacked for eight years. How is this not success? We are at war with those who attack us and those who support us. Get Osama and his #2 takes over. Destroy A-Q and those who enable them and we are safe from them. I think Bush made that clear in his much maligned “With us or against us” speech.

    Machinist (79b3ab)

  66. The complication arises that, in comparison to Germany and Japan who we defeated in defending ourselves against their agression, in Afghanistan we conducted a campaign of regime change, with the spectre of the recent Soviet invasion in the background that made it difficult to impose a government upon the Afghan’s if we didn’t want to create a similar uprising by them against an invading Imperial Power, us.
    So, we walked around on egg-shells relying on Karzai and his crowd to establish a central government without securing any committment from the far-flung tribes (war-lords) to that government. We then wound up with a President whose authority ended at the city-limits of Kabul (if it even extended that far).
    That is what makes it imperiative to have combat battallions throughout the country providing security for the population, acquiring their trust, and demonstrating to them that they can rely on us – and the Afghan Govt – for their security and prosperity.
    Absent that security, just as in Iraq, we cannot have the conditions that allow the government to secure a foothold and prosper.

    AD - RtR/OS! (814db9)

  67. Emperor…It appears by your questions that you are woefully ignorant of the recent history of Afghanistan.
    You might benefit by reading everything you can find about Afghanistan going back to the Soviet invasion in 1979, with side-trips to Pakistan and Iran.

    AD - RtR/OS! (814db9)

  68. “lower the bar”? Under Clinton Osama lived a very public life of luxury with impunity. He now runs from cave to cave and lives a medieval existence, impotent to strike at us as we hunt him like an animal. I don’t consider this failure as long as he is unable to threaten Americans. That is the main bar I care about. I would never have supported the invasions to catch Osama. We could have threatened the countries with air attacks and blockade if they didn’t hand him over. That would not have stopped the attacks though. What we did has. For you to say we should give up because we have not gotten Osama is silly and irresponsible, or what are you proposing we should do?

    Machinist (79b3ab)

  69. The Emperor needs to re-read the conclusion of #36.

    AD - RtR/OS! (814db9)

  70. For you to say we should give up because we have not gotten Osama is silly and irresponsible, or what are you proposing we should do?

    Comment by Machinist — 10/8/2009 @ 9:33 pm

    Did I say anything here about giving up? I simply said we need a new strategy, going forward. One that does not lump our real enemies with our lesser enemies. One that makes the war winnable. It is called “Divide and conquer.”

    The Emperor (1b037c)

  71. I apologize to actual r*tarded marmosets everywhere.

    JD (f1bef5)

  72. Section 2 – Authorization For Use of United States Armed Forces

    (a) IN GENERAL- That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  73. Emperor,

    How does letting the Taliban retain control of portions of Afghanistan divide the Taliban and al Qaeda? The Taliban had control before 9/11 and let al Qaeda use its country as a base. Letting the Taliban resume unfettered control of parts of Afghanistan makes it easier for them to resume their pre-9/11 relationship.

    DRJ (7fbae6)

  74. i’ve got a great new strategy:

    let’s kill the bad guys where ever we find them. Taliban, Al Queda, Somali pirates, genocidal thugs in the Sudan, Hezbollah, and the 1001 varieties of Paleostinian murders.

    Iranian or NoRk ships carrying weapons, missiles and god knows what else can quietly and mysteriously disappear at sea. it’s time the submarine Navy held a world wide SINKEX.

    Iranian weapons and EFP’s can be repaid by mysterious explosions at government facilities throughout Iran. after all, what is the point of having stealth if we don’t use it?

    unlawful combatants will be interrogated gently to see if they will talk. if not, they get the summary execution the Geneva Convention says is their right. if they do talk, take all the info, then release them back into the wild, after publicizing them as the source of the info for our most recent strikes. cooperation should always be recognized.

    Oderint Dum Metuant.

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  75. That works for me.

    AD - RtR/OS! (814db9)

  76. I get your point Steve. But do you believe that sending more troops there to die without a clear strategy is the best course to take? Look, this goes way beyond just boots on ground.

    No, Emperor. Boots on the ground isn’t the point. But we had a strategy. Barack Obama tapped a bunch of people to produce a strategy. And the strategy Barack Obama announced in March made counterinsurgency the central feature. He chose McChrystal as his commander, and sent him off to do an assessment of what he would need.

    And now he is going to reject it simply because domestic political calculations.

    He is not rejecting it because it is the wrong strategy. He is rejecting the strategy he’s been informed twice now is the most effective course of action because he didn’t really understand how costly or risky it would be.

    Now that he does understand, he’s going to alter the mission to one more likely to fail but more palatable to him for considerations that have to do with anything but Afghanistan.

    What I think about the right mission for our troops, or if there even should be a mission, isn’t the issue. Although noone including McChrystal, if you read his assessment, is saying this is about boots on the ground or we can defeat the Taliban militarily.

    But I do know that Obama isn’t going to decide the mission based on what is most likely to achieve a desired end state in Afghanistan. So rather than have a strategy, leaving our troops there to die without a clear strategy is shaping up to be Barack Obama’s Afghanistan policy.

    Steve (6a181b)

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