McChrystal: Urgent, we are about to fail in Afghanistan

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keaggy220
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McChrystal: Urgent, we are about to fail in Afghanistan

Post by keaggy220 » Mon Sep 21, 2009 5:34 am

McChrystal: More Forces or 'Mission Failure'
Top U.S. Commander For Afghan War Calls Next 12 Months Decisive

By Bob Woodward
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, September 21, 2009

The top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan warns in an urgent, confidential assessment of the war that he needs more forces within the next year and bluntly states that without them, the eight-year conflict "will likely result in failure," according to a copy of the 66-page document obtained by The Washington Post.

Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal says emphatically: "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."

His assessment was sent to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates on Aug. 30 and is now being reviewed by President Obama and his national security team.

McChrystal concludes the document's five-page Commander's Summary on a note of muted optimism: "While the situation is serious, success is still achievable."

But he repeatedly warns that without more forces and the rapid implementation of a genuine counterinsurgency strategy, defeat is likely. McChrystal describes an Afghan government riddled with corruption and an international force undermined by tactics that alienate civilians.

He provides extensive new details about the Taliban insurgency, which he calls a muscular and sophisticated enemy that uses modern propaganda and systematically reaches into Afghanistan's prisons to recruit members and even plan operations.

McChrystal's assessment is one of several options the White House is considering. His plan could intensify a national debate in which leading Democratic lawmakers have expressed reluctance about committing more troops to an increasingly unpopular war. Obama said last week that he will not decide whether to send more troops until he has "absolute clarity about what the strategy is going to be."

The commander has prepared a separate detailed request for additional troops and other resources, but defense officials have said he is awaiting instructions before sending it to the Pentagon.

Senior administration officials asked The Post over the weekend to withhold brief portions of the assessment that they said could compromise future operations. A declassified version of the document, with some deletions made at the government's request, appears at washingtonpost.com.

McChrystal makes clear that his call for more forces is predicated on the adoption of a strategy in which troops emphasize protecting Afghans rather than killing insurgents or controlling territory. Most starkly, he says: "nadequate resources will likely result in failure. However, without a new strategy, the mission should not be resourced."

'Widespread Corruption'
The assessment offers an unsparing critique of the failings of the Afghan government, contending that official corruption is as much of a threat as the insurgency to the mission of the International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, as the U.S.-led NATO coalition is widely known.

"The weakness of state institutions, malign actions of power-brokers, widespread corruption and abuse of power by various officials, and ISAF's own errors, have given Afghans little reason to support their government," McChrystal says.

The result has been a "crisis of confidence among Afghans," he writes. "Further, a perception that our resolve is uncertain makes Afghans reluctant to align with us against the insurgents."

McChrystal is equally critical of the command he has led since June 15. The key weakness of ISAF, he says, is that it is not aggressively defending the Afghan population. "Pre-occupied with protection of our own forces, we have operated in a manner that distances us -- physically and psychologically -- from the people we seek to protect. . . . The insurgents cannot defeat us militarily; but we can defeat ourselves."

McChrystal continues: "Afghan social, political, economic, and cultural affairs are complex and poorly understood. ISAF does not sufficiently appreciate the dynamics in local communities, nor how the insurgency, corruption, incompetent officials, power-brokers, and criminality all combine to affect the Afghan population."

Coalition intelligence-gathering has focused on how to attack insurgents, hindering "ISAF's comprehension of the critical aspects of Afghan society."

In a four-page annex on detainee operations, McChrystal warns that the Afghan prison system has become "a sanctuary and base to conduct lethal operations" against the government and coalition forces. He cites as examples an apparent prison connection to the 2008 bombing of the Serena Hotel in Kabul and other attacks. "Unchecked, Taliban/Al Qaeda leaders patiently coordinate and plan, unconcerned with interference from prison personnel or the military."

The assessment says that Taliban and al-Qaeda insurgents "represent more than 2,500 of the 14,500 inmates in the increasingly overcrowded Afghan Corrections System," in which "[h]ardened, committed Islamists are indiscriminately mixed with petty criminals and sex offenders, and they are using the opportunity to radicalize and indoctrinate them."

Noting that the United States "came to Afghanistan vowing to deny these same enemies safe haven in 2001," he says they now operate with relative impunity in the prisons. "There are more insurgents per square foot in corrections facilities than anywhere else in Afghanistan," his assessment says.

McChrystal outlines a plan to build up the Afghan government's ability to manage its detention facilities and eventually put all such operations under Afghan control, including the Bagram Theater Internment Facility, which the United States runs.

For now, because of a lack of capacity, "productive interrogations and detainee intelligence collection have been reduced" at Bagram. "As a result, hundreds are held without charge or without a defined way-ahead. This allows the enemy to radicalize them far beyond their pre-capture orientation. The problem can no longer be ignored."

McChrystal's Plan
The general says his command is "not adequately executing the basics" of counterinsurgency by putting the Afghan people first. "ISAF personnel must be seen as guests of the Afghan people and their government, not an occupying army," he writes. "Key personnel in ISAF must receive training in local languages."

He also says that coalition forces will change their operational culture, in part by spending "as little time as possible in armored vehicles or behind the walls of forward operating bases." Strengthening Afghans' sense of security will require troops to take greater risks, but the coalition "cannot succeed if it is unwilling to share risk, at least equally, with the people."

McChrystal warns that in the short run, it "is realistic to expect that Afghan and coalition casualties will increase."

He proposes speeding the growth of Afghan security forces. The existing goal is to expand the army from 92,000 to 134,000 by December 2011. McChrystal seeks to move that deadline to October 2010.

Overall, McChrystal wants the Afghan army to grow to 240,000 and the police to 160,000 for a total security force of 400,000, but he does not specify when those numbers could be reached.

He also calls for "radically more integrated and partnered" work with Afghan units.

McChrystal says the military must play an active role in reconciliation, winning over less committed insurgent fighters. The coalition "requires a credible program to offer eligible insurgents reasonable incentives to stop fighting and return to normalcy, possibly including the provision of employment and protection," he writes.

Coalition forces will have to learn that "there are now three outcomes instead of two" for enemy fighters: not only capture or death, but also "reintegration."

Again and again, McChrystal makes the case that his command must be bolstered if failure is to be averted. "ISAF requires more forces," he states, citing "previously validated, yet un-sourced, requirements" -- an apparent reference to a request for 10,000 more troops originally made by McChrystal's predecessor, Gen. David D. McKiernan.

A Three-Headed Insurgency
McChrystal identifies three main insurgent groups "in order of their threat to the mission" and provides significant details about their command structures and objectives.

The first is the Quetta Shura Taliban (QST) headed by Mullah Omar, who fled Afghanistan after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and operates from the Pakistani city of Quetta.

"At the operational level, the Quetta Shura conducts a formal campaign review each winter, after which Mullah Omar announces his guidance and intent for the coming year," according to the assessment.

Mullah Omar's insurgency has established an elaborate alternative government known as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, McChrystal writes, which is capitalizing on the Afghan government's weaknesses. "They appoint shadow governors for most provinces, review their performance, and replace them periodically. They established a body to receive complaints against their own 'officials' and to act on them. They install 'shari'a' [Islamic law] courts to deliver swift and enforced justice in contested and controlled areas. They levy taxes and conscript fighters and laborers. They claim to provide security against a corrupt government, ISAF forces, criminality, and local power brokers. They also claim to protect Afghan and Muslim identity against foreign encroachment."

"The QST has been working to control Kandahar and its approaches for several years and there are indications that their influence over the city and neighboring districts is significant and growing," McChrystal writes.

The second main insurgency group is the Haqqani network (HQN), which is active in southeastern Afghanistan and draws money and manpower "principally from Pakistan, Gulf Arab networks, and from its close association with al Qaeda and other Pakistan-based insurgent groups." At another point in the assessment, McChrystal says, "Al Qaeda's links with HQN have grown, suggesting that expanded HQN control could create a favorable environment" for associated extremist movements "to re-establish safe-havens in Afghanistan."

The third is the Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin insurgency, which maintains bases in three Afghan provinces "as well as Pakistan," the assessment says. This network, led by the former mujaheddin commander Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, "aims to negotiate a major role in a future Taliban government. He does not currently have geographical objectives as is the case with the other groups," though he "seeks control of mineral wealth and smuggling routes in the east."

Overall, McChrystal provides this conclusion about the enemy: "The insurgents control or contest a significant portion of the country, although it is difficult to assess precisely how much due to a lack of ISAF presence. . . . "

The insurgents make money from the production and sale of opium and other narcotics, but the assessment says that "eliminating insurgent access to narco-profits -- even if possible, and while disruptive -- would not destroy their ability to operate so long as other funding sources remained intact."

While the insurgency is predominantly Afghan, McChrystal writes that it "is clearly supported from Pakistan. Senior leaders of the major Afghan insurgent groups are based in Pakistan, are linked with al Qaeda and other violent extremist groups, and are reportedly aided by some elements of Pakistan's ISI," which is its intelligence service. Al-Qaeda and other extremist movements "based in Pakistan channel foreign fighters, suicide bombers, and technical assistance into Afghanistan, and offer ideological motivation, training, and financial support."

Toward the end of his report, McChrystal revisits his central theme: "Failure to provide adequate resources also risks a longer conflict, greater casualties, higher overall costs, and ultimately, a critical loss of political support. Any of these risks, in turn, are likely to result in mission failure."
"I guess we're all, or most of us, the wards of the nineteenth-century sciences which denied existence of anything it could not reason or explain. The things we couldn't explain went right on but not with our blessing... So many old and lovely things are stored in the world's attic, because we don't want them around us and we don't dare throw them out."
— John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent


"He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God."
- Micah 6:8

JackC
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Re: McChrystal: Urgent, we are about to fail in Afghanistan

Post by JackC » Mon Sep 21, 2009 9:44 am

This is Obama's nightmare. He was hoping thaty he would be told that a different path could be followed that would lower profile of the US. Instead he has gotten the "more troops" message for a war that he himself had called "war of necessity", not because he believes that (he doesn't) but because he had to contrast it to Iraq to avoid looking too weak to be President.

In the end, he will avoid sending more troops. He doesn't believe in or care about that conflict, other than that to wish we had never gone to war there.

nut-job
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Re: McChrystal: Urgent, we are about to fail in Afghanistan

Post by nut-job » Mon Sep 21, 2009 1:20 pm

I agree that this is a significant test for Obama. His recent statement that he is reluctant to send more troops until it is clear what the strategy is makes sense, if he is serious about it. The status quo is not an option. Either there is no strategy and troops should be removed, or there is a viable strategy and the troops must be supplied urgently. It is important for Obama to stand up to the appeasement faction of his own party and do what he feels is right. I must admit, it gets fatiguing to read your condemnation of Obama for what you claim he will do. Why not show a little patience and wait for him to actually do it before condemning?

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Re: McChrystal: Urgent, we are about to fail in Afghanistan

Post by JackC » Mon Sep 21, 2009 1:49 pm

nut-job wrote:I agree that this is a significant test for Obama. His recent statement that he is reluctant to send more troops until it is clear what the strategy is makes sense, if he is serious about it. The status quo is not an option. Either there is no strategy and troops should be removed, or there is a viable strategy and the troops must be supplied urgently. It is important for Obama to stand up to the appeasement faction of his own party and do what he feels is right.
Well do you really have any doubt that he thinks the best thing to do is exit without more troops??

It seems to be that his biggest problem is that he has previously stated that he would fight THAT war because he knew he HAD to say that. Unlike Hillary, he voted against the war with Iraq. So he was afraid of being perceived as too weak to be President. So he blessed Afghanistan as a "good" war.

He is a child of the left. He is slowly closing down all other fronts on the "war on terror" (and won't even use that name).He is even going after the CIA for fighting on one of those fronts. He never cared about or believed in that war. It was a cold political calculation.

Now the price of that empty, calculated rhetoric is very plain. It won't belong before we start to hear the "trial balloons" being floated about how we can "change strategy" without sending more troops. The only way that he will send more troops is if the polls tell him he HAS to send more troops or end up being viewed as Jimmy Carter 2.

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Re: McChrystal: Urgent, we are about to fail in Afghanistan

Post by nut-job » Mon Sep 21, 2009 1:53 pm

JackC wrote:Well do you really have any doubt that he thinks the best thing to do is exit without more troops??

It seems to be that his biggest problem is that he has previously stated that he would fight THAT war because he knew he HAD to say that. Given that, unlike Hillary, he voted against the war with Iraq, he was afraid of being perceived as to weak to be President. So he blessed Afghanistan as a "good" war. He is a child of the left. He never cared about or believed in that war. It was a cold political calculation.

Now the price of that empty, calculated rhetoric is very plain. It won't belong before we start to hear the "trial balloons" being floated about how we can leave "change strategy" without sending more troops. The only way that he will send more troops is if the polls tell him he HAS to send more troops or end up being viewed as Jimmy Carter 2.
Being the one in charge can change people. Bush suddenly became a socialist when Paulson whispered in his ear about the collapse of the financial system and the possibility of a deflationary spiral and general economic collapse. Maybe Obama will become a hawk now that he gets briefings from the Joint Chiefs and is no longer the lone voice in the opposition party.

JackC
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Re: McChrystal: Urgent, we are about to fail in Afghanistan

Post by JackC » Mon Sep 21, 2009 5:46 pm

JackC wrote: Now the price of that empty, calculated rhetoric is very plain. It won't belong before we start to hear the "trial balloons" being floated about how we can "change strategy" without sending more troops. The only way that he will send more troops is if the polls tell him he HAS to send more troops or end up being viewed as Jimmy Carter 2.
Wow, it didn't take Obama et al long to float their first balloon!!

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32952295/ns ... tral_asia/

So let me get this straight, how is hunting for Al Queda in Pakistan with the use of drones planes going to do anything to stop the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan???

The answer is obvious- NOTHING.

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Re: McChrystal: Urgent, we are about to fail in Afghanistan

Post by Chalkperson » Mon Sep 21, 2009 7:56 pm

JackC wrote:
JackC wrote: Now the price of that empty, calculated rhetoric is very plain. It won't belong before we start to hear the "trial balloons" being floated about how we can "change strategy" without sending more troops. The only way that he will send more troops is if the polls tell him he HAS to send more troops or end up being viewed as Jimmy Carter 2.
Wow, it didn't take Obama et al long to float their first balloon!!

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32952295/ns ... tral_asia/

So let me get this straight, how is hunting for Al Queda in Pakistan with the use of drones planes going to do anything to stop the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan???

The answer is obvious- NOTHING.
Winter is coming, and Afghanistan is a difficult kind of War, IED's are everywhere because it's so easy to hide them when there are no proper roads, British Soldiers are getting killed almost every day, at least the Drones are achieving something...They are giving money and cellphones to locals on the Pakistan Border, the idea is that they place the cellphones near the Taliban/Al Quada safe houses, the Drones pick up a GPS signal from the phone and we hit the target, sure, some go wrong because the man placing the device has to be trusted to do so, but it's all we can do without (technically) Invading yet another Country, I agree with Nut-Job, Obama is more of a Hawk than you give him credit for...when he goes to the Situation Room he's the only Indian in a room full of Chief's, and he trusts and listens to Secretary Gates, at least give him some credit before prematurely judging him, in this instance he has to put the Country before his fellow Democratic Politicians, if the Chiefs say more Troops I think you will find him taking their advice...losing a War is much worse than walking away from one, which seems to me to be what you expect him to do...
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Re: McChrystal: Urgent, we are about to fail in Afghanistan

Post by jbuck919 » Mon Sep 21, 2009 8:30 pm

Chalkperson wrote: but it's all we can do without (technically) Invading yet another Country,
Sixty-two thousand soldiers on the ground is already an invasion by any standard.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: McChrystal: Urgent, we are about to fail in Afghanistan

Post by Chalkperson » Mon Sep 21, 2009 8:58 pm

jbuck919 wrote:
Chalkperson wrote: but it's all we can do without (technically) Invading yet another Country,
Sixty-two thousand soldiers on the ground is already an invasion by any standard.
I was referring to Pakistan, that's why we use the CIA... :wink:
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Re: McChrystal: Urgent, we are about to fail in Afghanistan

Post by jbuck919 » Mon Sep 21, 2009 9:09 pm

Chalkperson wrote:
jbuck919 wrote:
Chalkperson wrote: but it's all we can do without (technically) Invading yet another Country,
Sixty-two thousand soldiers on the ground is already an invasion by any standard.
I was referring to Pakistan, that's why we use the CIA... :wink:
Oops. :wink:

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

keaggy220
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Re: McChrystal: Urgent, we are about to fail in Afghanistan

Post by keaggy220 » Tue Sep 22, 2009 7:46 am

Does anyone else here think that health care has absolutely consumed this administration and hence Afghanistan has received almost no focussed attention?

In fact didn't Obama release a new strategy and direction for Afghanistan back in March? Was that ever implemented? What is going on? I'm confused and I think there are many people equally confused.
"I guess we're all, or most of us, the wards of the nineteenth-century sciences which denied existence of anything it could not reason or explain. The things we couldn't explain went right on but not with our blessing... So many old and lovely things are stored in the world's attic, because we don't want them around us and we don't dare throw them out."
— John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent


"He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God."
- Micah 6:8

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Re: McChrystal: Urgent, we are about to fail in Afghanistan

Post by Chalkperson » Tue Sep 22, 2009 12:54 pm

keaggy220 wrote:In fact didn't Obama release a new strategy and direction for Afghanistan back in March? Was that ever implemented? What is going on? I'm confused and I think there are many people equally confused.
Yes, they replaced the Commanding General there (sorry, his name escapes me) and Petreaus came up with a Strategy including a Surge for Afghanistan, my friend Col. Bob worked with General Petreaus on the Iraq Surge and made two important points, First, Obama/Bush should tell the American People that with a Surge comes loss of life, American Troops will die and we as a Nation must understand and accept that, Secondly, after a Surge you have twelve weeks before the Enemy re-groups and finds a new way to attack you, never forget that they are smart too, the reason we need the extra Troops now is because we are stretched too thin in the countryside and the Taliban are better at fighting large scale assaults than we expected, there are IED's everywhere, we need support Troops to help clear the roads, you can plan to fight a War in Theory, but, in practice things can change with the wind, we needed 100,000 Troops there, because of Iraq we lost the plot in Afghanistan, now we have to make up for lost time and try and turn things around...

PS, "Surge" is a name for the Media/Public/White House to be able to use to describe it, but, it is not just an increase in Troops, the Strategy behind the Surge is what is important, in Iraq that included putting Barriers all over Baghdad to divide and contain the Ethnic Groups, befriending (and paying) Tribal Chiefs and getting them to work with us instead of against us, seeing the War from the eyes and minds of the Iraqi people, putting their safety first instead of just killing everyone in sight, read "The Gamble" Tom Ricks book about it, it will give you a really good perspective and understanding of what the Iraq Surge was and how and why it worked...

http://www.amazon.com/Gamble-Petraeus-A ... 297&sr=8-5
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keaggy220
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Re: McChrystal: Urgent, we are about to fail in Afghanistan

Post by keaggy220 » Wed Sep 23, 2009 7:01 am

Chalkperson wrote:
keaggy220 wrote:In fact didn't Obama release a new strategy and direction for Afghanistan back in March? Was that ever implemented? What is going on? I'm confused and I think there are many people equally confused.
Yes, they replaced the Commanding General there (sorry, his name escapes me) and Petreaus came up with a Strategy including a Surge for Afghanistan, my friend Col. Bob worked with General Petreaus on the Iraq Surge and made two important points, First, Obama/Bush should tell the American People that with a Surge comes loss of life, American Troops will die and we as a Nation must understand and accept that, Secondly, after a Surge you have twelve weeks before the Enemy re-groups and finds a new way to attack you, never forget that they are smart too, the reason we need the extra Troops now is because we are stretched too thin in the countryside and the Taliban are better at fighting large scale assaults than we expected, there are IED's everywhere, we need support Troops to help clear the roads, you can plan to fight a War in Theory, but, in practice things can change with the wind, we needed 100,000 Troops there, because of Iraq we lost the plot in Afghanistan, now we have to make up for lost time and try and turn things around...

PS, "Surge" is a name for the Media/Public/White House to be able to use to describe it, but, it is not just an increase in Troops, the Strategy behind the Surge is what is important, in Iraq that included putting Barriers all over Baghdad to divide and contain the Ethnic Groups, befriending (and paying) Tribal Chiefs and getting them to work with us instead of against us, seeing the War from the eyes and minds of the Iraqi people, putting their safety first instead of just killing everyone in sight, read "The Gamble" Tom Ricks book about it, it will give you a really good perspective and understanding of what the Iraq Surge was and how and why it worked...

http://www.amazon.com/Gamble-Petraeus-A ... 297&sr=8-5
I know a lot of people disagree, but I think blinking in Afghanistan for the sake of the work done in Iraq was well worth it. Having a democracy in Iraq is full of advantages that Afghanistan could never provide.

Of course, I was under the impression that we could come back and finish Afghanistan as well, but I've lost faith in Obama's resolve. He put together a plan in March and then just two days ago said we didn't have a plan. Huh? He's totally not focussed because health care is consuming him. Also, I believe he's a pacifist and he'll never make the commitment required of him to give our soldiers what they need to win.
"I guess we're all, or most of us, the wards of the nineteenth-century sciences which denied existence of anything it could not reason or explain. The things we couldn't explain went right on but not with our blessing... So many old and lovely things are stored in the world's attic, because we don't want them around us and we don't dare throw them out."
— John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent


"He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God."
- Micah 6:8

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Re: McChrystal: Urgent, we are about to fail in Afghanistan

Post by jbuck919 » Wed Sep 23, 2009 7:52 am

Keaggy wrote: Also, I believe he's a pacifist and he'll never make the commitment required of him to give our soldiers what they need to win.
You haven't a shred of evidence to back up this extraordinary claim. You and Corlyss seem to assume that either a man is a pacifist or that he never met an opportunity to wage war that
he didn't like, with nothing in between. There is no precedent that I am aware of for a true pacifist (someone who sees war as always the greater evil and refuses to participate in it) being the head of any government of any nation. How likely is it that this man is the first in all of history to come to office with a secret pacifist agenda? Or is this just another case of your appropriating a perfectly good word (as you did with "socialism") and slapping it on someone as a label when it doesn't apply?

We have a term for someone who is reluctant to wage war but who is short of a pacifist. It is "dove." I could understand raising and discussing the question of whether Obama is too "dovish," but someone who came to office with the intent to pursue Afghanistan, who is in fact pursuing it even as he re-thinks the situation, is not by any stretch of the imagination a "pacifist."

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

Cosima__J

Re: McChrystal: Urgent, we are about to fail in Afghanistan

Post by Cosima__J » Wed Sep 23, 2009 9:00 am

Seems like we have a moving target, in Obama's eyes, to deal with:

During the presidential campaign: war in Iraq is not important. It's Afghanistan that's important.

Now: Afghanistan isn't so important. Now the battle must be waged in Pakistan.

Perhaps the situation on the ground has changed? Or what?

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Re: McChrystal: Urgent, we are about to fail in Afghanistan

Post by JackC » Wed Sep 23, 2009 9:19 am

Cosima__J wrote:Seems like we have a moving target, in Obama's eyes, to deal with:

During the presidential campaign: war in Iraq is not important. It's Afghanistan that's important.

Now: Afghanistan isn't so important. Now the battle must be waged in Pakistan.

Perhaps the situation on the ground has changed? Or what?
It's perfectly obvious what changed. Notwithstanding what he says or has said, Obama does not believe in this war and does not want to fight it. He only said he thought it was necessary because he thought he HAD to say that to get elected. If he decides to do what the military suggests, it will only because his poll numbers are in the tank, and he would be afraid of being labeled a "Jimmy Carter" before his first year is over (even thouigh he is a Jimmy Carter).

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Re: McChrystal: Urgent, we are about to fail in Afghanistan

Post by JackC » Wed Sep 23, 2009 9:37 am

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32979952/ns ... ork_times/


More trial balloons. It's soooo hard to find a graceful way to give up and surrender, isn't it. :roll:

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Re: McChrystal: Urgent, we are about to fail in Afghanistan

Post by Barry » Thu Sep 24, 2009 10:27 am

Afghanistan
A narrow counterterrorism mission sounds like a win-win. One problem: It won’t work.
By Bruce Riedel and Michael O'Hanlon
As the Afghanistan mission has encountered growing troubles this summer, the debate about whether to lower U.S. goals and focus more narrowly on counterterrorism has again re-emerged. Such a shift sounds appealing. If advocates are right, we could protect the United States against terrorism while lowering costs, casualties and commitment in Afghanistan — a war that by some measures is about to become the longest in U.S. history.

Those who favor the counterterrorism option — as opposed to deeper engagement — imply that we can destroy al-Qaeda's core with a few U.S. special forces teams, modern intelligence fusion centers, cruise-missile-carrying ships and unmanned aerial vehicles of the type that recently killed Pakistani extremist leader Baitullah Mehsud. Some advocates of this kind of plan would continue our intense efforts to train Afghan security forces. Others would not. But all envision a dramatically reduced U.S. role.

Pretty good — if it would work.

Alas, it would not. In fact, we have seen this movie before. In the early years after the Taliban fell in 2001, the main American presence in Afghanistan consisted precisely of the above kinds of assets and attempted precisely what counterterrorism advocates now favor as though they are coming up with something new. That was Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's "light footprint" strategy.

It's the intelligence, stupid
The fundamental reason that a counterterrorism-focused strategy fails is that it cannot generate good intelligence. Al-Qaeda and the Taliban know not to use their cellphones and satellite phones today, so our spy satellites are of little use in finding extremists. We need information from unmanned low-altitude aircraft and, even more, from people on the ground who speak the language and know the comings and goings of locals. But our Afghan friends who might be inclined to help us with such information would be intimidated by insurgent and terrorist forces into silence — or killed if they cooperated — because we would lack the ability to protect them under a counterterrorism approach.

Afghan forces simply do not have the capacity to do the protecting themselves at this point and, given the challenges of building up new institutions in Afghanistan after decades of war, will not have the ability until at least 2012. Even that distant date will be postponed further if we do not deploy enough forces to mentor and partner with Afghans as they build up an army and police force largely from scratch. This adds up to a prescription for a drying up of intelligence.

The second reason a counterterrorism-oriented strategy would fail is that, if we tried it, we would likely lose our ability to operate unmanned aircraft where the Taliban and al-Qaeda prefer to hide. Why? If we pulled out, the Afghan government would likely collapse. The secure bases near the mountains of the Afghan-Pakistan border, and thus our ability to operate aircraft from them, would be lost. Our ability to go after Afghan resistance fighters would deteriorate. And the recent momentum we have established in going after Pakistani extremists would be lost.

For those who have forgotten the realities of the 1990s — when we tried to go after Osama bin Laden without access to nearby bases by using ships based in the Indian Ocean — the two- to four-hour flight times of drones and cruise missiles operating off such ships made prompt action to real-time intelligence impractical.

Third, we would likely lose our allies with this approach. A limited mission offers nothing to the Afghans, whose country is essentially abandoned to the Taliban, or to the Pakistanis, who would similarly see this as the first step toward cut and run. The NATO allies would also smell in a "reduced" mission the beginning of withdrawal; some if not most might try to beat us to the exit.

Once the Taliban is back in power in Afghanistan, al-Qaeda will not be far behind. Our top nemesis will be able to salvage a victory in the very place from which it launched the 9/11 attacks eight years ago. Al-Qaeda will have its favorite bases and sanctuaries back, as well as a major propaganda win.

A major setback, a major danger
Given how badly the situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated since 2001, we might ultimately have to fall back on a narrow counterterrorism option. But that would be a major setback, and a major danger, for the United States — not a clever, lower-cost alternative strategy to what we are pursuing in Afghanistan today.

Some say that the stakes aren't that high because al-Qaeda doesn't really need a sanctuary to do its dirty work. But this misses the point and fails to distinguish between the bad and the worse. Having a physical sanctuary, in addition to being able to claim victory against the United States and its allies, would make organization, training and communication far easier for bin Laden and his cronies.

The right path remains what President Obama proposed in March — working to protect the Afghan population while building up Afghan state institutions such as the army and police. This approach will take time and perhaps more resources. But alas, in this kind of war, there is little choice.

Bruce Riedel, a CIA veteran, chaired the president's Afghanistan-Pakistan review last winter; Michael O'Hanlon monitored the Aug. 20 elections in Afghanistan with the International Republican Institute and is author of a new book, The Science of War. Both are senior fellows at the Brookings Institution.
http://blogs.usatoday.com/oped/2009/09/ ... istan.html
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Re: McChrystal: Urgent, we are about to fail in Afghanistan

Post by Barry » Fri Sep 25, 2009 8:17 am

Op-Ed Columnist
The Afghan Imperative

By DAVID BROOKS
Published: September 24, 2009

Always there is the illusion of the easy path. Always there is the illusion, which gripped Donald Rumsfeld and now grips many Democrats, that you can fight a counterinsurgency war with a light footprint, with cruise missiles, with special forces operations and unmanned drones. Always there is the illusion, deep in the bones of the Pentagon’s Old Guard, that you can fight a force like the Taliban by keeping your troops mostly in bases, and then sending them out in well-armored convoys to kill bad guys.

There is simply no historical record to support these illusions. The historical evidence suggests that these middling strategies just create a situation in which you have enough forces to assume responsibility for a conflict, but not enough to prevail.

The record suggests what Gen. Stanley McChrystal clearly understands — that only the full counterinsurgency doctrine offers a chance of success. This is a doctrine, as General McChrystal wrote in his remarkable report, that puts population protection at the center of the Afghanistan mission, that acknowledges that insurgencies can only be defeated when local communities and military forces work together.

To put it concretely, this is a doctrine in which small groups of American men and women are outside the wire in dangerous places in remote valleys, providing security, gathering intelligence, helping to establish courts and building schools and roads.

These are the realistic choices for America’s Afghanistan policy — all out or all in, surrender the place to the Taliban or do armed nation-building. And we might as well acknowledge that it’s not an easy call. The costs and rewards are tightly balanced. But in the end, President Obama was right: “You don’t muddle through the central front on terror. ... You don’t muddle through stamping out the Taliban.”

Since 1979, we have been involved in a long, complex conflict against Islamic extremism. We’ve fought this ideology in many ways in many places, and we shouldn’t pretend we understand how this conflict will evolve. But we should understand that the conflict is unavoidable and that when extremism pushes, it’s in our long-term interests to push back — and that eventually, if we do so, extremism will wither.

Afghanistan is central to this effort partly because it could again become a safe haven to terrorists, but mostly because of its effects on the stability of Pakistan. As Stephen Biddle noted in a recent essay in The American Interest, the Taliban is a transnational Pashtun movement active in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. It is part of a complex insurgency trying to topple the Pakistani regime.

Pakistan has a fragile government with an estimated 50 or more nuclear weapons. A Taliban conquest in Afghanistan would endanger the Pakistani regime at best, create a regional crisis for certain and lead to a nuclear-armed Al Qaeda at worst.

A Taliban reconquest would also, it should be said, be a moral atrocity from which American self-respect would not soon recover.

Proponents of withdrawal often acknowledge the costs of defeat but argue that the cause is hopeless anyway. On this, let me note a certain pattern. When you interview people who know little about Afghanistan, they describe an anarchic place that is the graveyard of empires. When you interview people who live there or are experts, they think those stereotypes are rubbish. They usually take a hardened but guardedly optimistic view. Read Clare Lockhart’s Sept. 17 testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to get a sense of the way many knowledgeable people view the situation.

Amidst all the problems, the NATO coalition has a few things going for it. First, American forces have become quite good at counterinsurgency. They have a battle-tested strategy, experienced troops and a superb new leadership team. According to the political scientists Andrew J. Enterline and Joseph Magagnoli, since World War II, counterinsurgency efforts that put population protection at their core have succeeded nearly 70 percent of the time.

Second, the enemy is wildly hated. Only 6 percent of Afghans want a Taliban return, while NATO is viewed with surprising favor. This is not Vietnam or even Iraq.

Third, while many Afghan institutions are now dysfunctional, there is a base on which to build. The Afghan Army is a successful institution. Local villages have their own centuries-old civic institutions. The National Solidarity Program was able to build development councils in 23,000 villages precisely because the remnants of civil society still exist.

We have tried to fight the Afghan war the easy way, and it hasn’t worked. Switching now to the McChrystal strategy is a difficult choice, and President Obama is right to take his time. But Obama was also right a few months ago when he declared, “This will not be quick, nor easy. But we must never forget: This is not a war of choice. This is a war of necessity. ... This is fundamental to the defense of our people.”
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/25/opini ... DG3dW4hBkQ
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
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Re: McChrystal: Urgent, we are about to fail in Afghanistan

Post by Cyril Ignatius » Fri Sep 25, 2009 9:36 am

We need to get out of Afghanistan. The military objectives aren't clear and concrete enough. We can't fight to win because the politicians are more interested in the war's effect on their poll numbers than larger issues of national security or the reality of the war at ground level. Afghanistan is not a normal place. This isn't a normal war. Expect a steady procession of Americans coming back in body bags while onlookers stateside ring their hands.
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Re: McChrystal: Urgent, we are about to fail in Afghanistan

Post by Barry » Fri Sep 25, 2009 9:54 am

Cyril Ignatius wrote:We need to get out of Afghanistan. The military objectives aren't clear and concrete enough. We can't fight to win because the politicians are more interested in the war's effect on their poll numbers than larger issues of national security or the reality of the war at ground level. Afghanistan is not a normal place. This isn't a normal war. Expect a steady procession of Americans coming back in body bags while onlookers stateside ring their hands.
I think it goes without saying that when you decide to go beyond merely treading water to taking firmer steps to achieve a degree of success, that more American soldiers are going to get killed. I posted an article by Robert Kaplan in the spring that spelled out that if the President's then new commitment to fighting a more comprehensive counterinsurgency war is actually carried out, that there would be a significant increase in casualties, and that a test of the will of both the President and the country would follow.
Also, while I don't know all of the details, I don't think you're right that General McChrystal has no clear military objectives. I think he (and Petraeus) have a good idea of what needs to be done, and they obviously think they don't have enough troops at this point to do it.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pbp0hur ... re=related

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Re: McChrystal: Urgent, we are about to fail in Afghanistan

Post by Cyril Ignatius » Fri Sep 25, 2009 10:43 am

Barry wrote:
Cyril Ignatius wrote:We need to get out of Afghanistan. The military objectives aren't clear and concrete enough. We can't fight to win because the politicians are more interested in the war's effect on their poll numbers than larger issues of national security or the reality of the war at ground level. Afghanistan is not a normal place. This isn't a normal war. Expect a steady procession of Americans coming back in body bags while onlookers stateside ring their hands.
I think it goes without saying that when you decide to go beyond merely treading water to taking firmer steps to achieve a degree of success, that more American soldiers are going to get killed. I posted an article by Robert Kaplan in the spring that spelled out that if the President's then new commitment to fighting a more comprehensive counterinsurgency war is actually carried out, that there would be a significant increase in casualties, and that a test of the will of both the President and the country would follow.
Also, while I don't know all of the details, I don't think you're right that General McChrystal has no clear military objectives. I think he (and Petraeus) have a good idea of what needs to be done, and they obviously think they don't have enough troops at this point to do it.
If the General has objectives, the question is, does the President support those objectives, and in particular, are the President AND the General BOTH willing to fight the war in such a way as to win quickly. Or will American soldiers be under the same tight operational limitations they have been, while the enemy has none? If so, rhetorical support for the war, or specific objectives therein will prove meaningless and ultimately, deceptive. And if Obama tentatively supports the war, will he support the actual actions that will WIN the war, win it soon, and avoid a long drawn out bloodbath? Doubtful. Very doubtful. What I'm afraid will happen is we will stay in Afghanistan, but not really fight to win. And that we will take such great steps to avoid collateral damage, that victory will not occur, or will be long in the coming - and at great cost of American lives. Better to get out now. Most of our leaders don't want to learn from history. They want to use the war as one more way to micromanage their poll ratings. The areas they will fight in and the conditions of the fight will make Afghanistan a hell-hole for American soldiers. We have spectacular pain coming our way if we don't face these realities down. I feel sorry for the soldiers....If I were 18 or 20, I would NEVER sign up - having even a small inkling of what these guys got waiting for them in Afghanistan!
Cyril Ignatius

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Re: McChrystal: Urgent, we are about to fail in Afghanistan

Post by Barry » Fri Sep 25, 2009 11:01 am

Cyril Ignatius wrote: If the General has objectives, the question is, does the President support those objectives, and in particular, are the President AND the General BOTH willing to fight the war in such a way as to win quickly. Or will American soldiers be under the same tight operational limitations they have been, while the enemy has none? If so, rhetorical support for the war, or specific objectives therein will prove meaningless and ultimately, deceptive. And if Obama tentatively supports the war, will he support the actual actions that will WIN the war, win it soon, and avoid a long drawn out bloodbath? Doubtful. Very doubtful. What I'm afraid will happen is we will stay in Afghanistan, but not really fight to win. And that we will take such great steps to avoid collateral damage, that victory will not occur, or will be long in the coming - and at great cost of American lives. Better to get out now. Most of our leaders don't want to learn from history. They want to use the war as one more way to micromanage their poll ratings. The areas they will fight in and the conditions of the fight will make Afghanistan a hell-hole for American soldiers. We have spectacular pain coming our way if we don't face these realities down. I feel sorry for the soldiers....If I were 18 or 20, I would NEVER sign up - having even a small inkling of what these guys got waiting for them in Afghanistan!
I think both McChrystal and Petraeus have made it clear that there is no quick way to fight this war successfully. It's been drawn out so long in large part because we've been treading water there with very limited resources. I understand that was in large part because of the focus on Iraq, and I'm not complaining about that. But President Obama campaigned on the notion that Iraq was the wrong war and that Afghanistan was the one we needed to focus strong attention and necessary resources on. He then came out with a call for a comprehensive counterinsurgency operation, along with putting into place a General who is capable of leading that operation this past spring. I assume the President, and certainly the two generals I've mentioned understand the importance of a relatively stable Afghanistan to the well-being of nuclear-armed Pakistan.
Counterinsurgency operations are not "fast." But if you think allowing Afghanistan to again become an Al Qaeda training and planning ground, along with the additional potential danger that would pose for Pakistan is very harmful to our national interest and an important part of the war on radical Islamic terror, then doing this, and doing it right is very worthwhile; not easy and not pain-free, but extremely important.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pbp0hur ... re=related

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Re: McChrystal: Urgent, we are about to fail in Afghanistan

Post by Cyril Ignatius » Fri Sep 25, 2009 11:07 am

Barry wrote:
Cyril Ignatius wrote: If the General has objectives, the question is, does the President support those objectives, and in particular, are the President AND the General BOTH willing to fight the war in such a way as to win quickly. Or will American soldiers be under the same tight operational limitations they have been, while the enemy has none? If so, rhetorical support for the war, or specific objectives therein will prove meaningless and ultimately, deceptive. And if Obama tentatively supports the war, will he support the actual actions that will WIN the war, win it soon, and avoid a long drawn out bloodbath? Doubtful. Very doubtful. What I'm afraid will happen is we will stay in Afghanistan, but not really fight to win. And that we will take such great steps to avoid collateral damage, that victory will not occur, or will be long in the coming - and at great cost of American lives. Better to get out now. Most of our leaders don't want to learn from history. They want to use the war as one more way to micromanage their poll ratings. The areas they will fight in and the conditions of the fight will make Afghanistan a hell-hole for American soldiers. We have spectacular pain coming our way if we don't face these realities down. I feel sorry for the soldiers....If I were 18 or 20, I would NEVER sign up - having even a small inkling of what these guys got waiting for them in Afghanistan!
I think both McChrystal and Petraeus have made it clear that there is no quick way to fight this war successfully. It's been drawn out so long in large part because we've been treading water there with very limited resources. I understand that was in large part because of the focus on Iraq, and I'm not complaining about that. But President Obama campaigned on the notion that Iraq was the wrong war and that Afghanistan was the one we needed to focus strong attention and necessary resources on. He then came out with a call for a comprehensive counterinsurgency operation, along with putting into place a General who is capable of leading that operation this past spring. I assume the President, and certainly the two generals I've mentioned understand the importance of a relatively stable Afghanistan to the well-being of nuclear-armed Pakistan.
Counterinsurgency operations are not "fast." But if you think allowing Afghanistan to again become an Al Qaeda training and planning ground, along with the additional potential danger that would pose for Pakistan is very harmful to our national interest and an important part of the war on radical Islamic terror, then doing this, and doing it right is very worthwhile; not easy and not pain-free, but extremely important.
If we insist on getting involved in this (we got to stop being the world's policeman - it will bankrupt us and bring us down as it has all other former world empires) we should limit ourself to surgical long distant strikes from the air - that is it.
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Re: McChrystal: Urgent, we are about to fail in Afghanistan

Post by Barry » Fri Sep 25, 2009 11:23 am

I'm afraid that while that sounds nice, it won't suffice. See the articles I posted yesterday and earlier today.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pbp0hur ... re=related

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Re: McChrystal: Urgent, we are about to fail in Afghanistan

Post by Cyril Ignatius » Fri Sep 25, 2009 12:42 pm

Barry wrote:I'm afraid that while that sounds nice, it won't suffice. See the articles I posted yesterday and earlier today.
It won't suffice for whom? This war has human tragedy written all over it. Afghanistan will be the valley of death for American soldiers. And for what? What gains will their presence on the ground achieve beyond what surgical strikes from the air could accomplish? And at what cost to American soldiers? American soldiers on the ground in Afghanistan is an invitation to the mindless suffering/torture and death of American soldiers. Send the troops home.
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Re: McChrystal: Urgent, we are about to fail in Afghanistan

Post by Barry » Fri Sep 25, 2009 12:53 pm

Cyril Ignatius wrote:
Barry wrote:I'm afraid that while that sounds nice, it won't suffice. See the articles I posted yesterday and earlier today.
It won't suffice for whom? This war has human tragedy written all over it. Afghanistan will be the valley of death for American soldiers. And for what? What gains will their presence on the ground achieve beyond what surgical strikes from the air could accomplish? And at what cost to American soldiers? American soldiers on the ground in Afghanistan is an invitation to the mindless suffering/torture and death of American soldiers. Send the troops home.
It won't suffice to reverse gains that the Taliban has made in recent years. You can't begin to establish security for villages that don't want anything to do with the Taliban with surgical air strikes. You have a chance to accomplish that with boots on the ground in the right places. If there was no benefit from having a comprehensive counterinsurgency strategy with more troops on the ground, do you think McChrystal and Petraeus would be advocating it? Do you think they want American troops to suffer and die for no good reason? Do you think they (they, who wrote the American military counterinsurgency manuel) may know a little more about how to carry out a counterinsurgency operation than you and I do?
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pbp0hur ... re=related

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Re: McChrystal: Urgent, we are about to fail in Afghanistan

Post by Cyril Ignatius » Fri Sep 25, 2009 1:01 pm

Barry wrote:
Cyril Ignatius wrote:
Barry wrote:I'm afraid that while that sounds nice, it won't suffice. See the articles I posted yesterday and earlier today.
It won't suffice for whom? This war has human tragedy written all over it. Afghanistan will be the valley of death for American soldiers. And for what? What gains will their presence on the ground achieve beyond what surgical strikes from the air could accomplish? And at what cost to American soldiers? American soldiers on the ground in Afghanistan is an invitation to the mindless suffering/torture and death of American soldiers. Send the troops home.
It won't suffice to reverse gains that the Taliban has made in recent years. You can't begin to establish security for villages that don't want anything to do with the Taliban with surgical air strikes. You have a chance to accomplishing that with boots on the ground in the right places. If there was no benefit from having a comprehensive counterinsurgency strategy with more troops on the ground, do you think McChrystal and Petraeus would be advocating it? Do you think they want American troops to suffer and die for no good reason? Do you think they (they, who wrote the American military counterinsurgency manuel) may know a little more about how to carry out a counterinsurgency operation than you and I do?
Yes, I'm sure they know counterinsurgency very well; that is their job. BUT they are under the authority and control of politicians, and they are pressured to abide by regulations regarding how and on what terms the American soldiers may engage the enemy. These politicians and these terms of engagement have the effect - even if unintentionally - of making the cost in suffering/torture/death of American soldiers simply ghastly. We should go home.
Cyril Ignatius

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Re: McChrystal: Urgent, we are about to fail in Afghanistan

Post by Werner » Fri Sep 25, 2009 7:43 pm

I'm amazed! It seems the argument advanced here by Cyril parallels exactly what the extreme left opposition of the Iraq war was demanding - just let's go home!

If life were only that simple! Yes, mistakes were made in Iraq, lives were put in harm's way, and we've been reading in Chalkie's daily posts about the awful things that can happen young men like Kevin and their families in the course of war. So it's easy to adopt the motto of pacifism and just say, let's go home - even if Cyril's motivation in making that statement was something different from pacifism.

But we could never leave the combat zone to the enemy, and we can't now. Mistakes - many - were made in Iraq, but we are where we are now and have to deal with that. I had my doubts about the Iraq surge but have had to see that the policy and tactics used by Gates and Petraeus had an important effect there - no certainty, but things look more hopeful there.

It seems that what McChrystal and Petraeus have in mind in Afghanistan has much in common with the Iraq tactics. I can't see any other way, but I'm not there, not in the flow of information. So far, policies are still in flux and under consideration by the Joint Chiefs, Gates, and, ultimately, the President.
I guess all these guys wish they could just "go home." But they all know they can't do that and leave the area able to blow up again, with all the threat this would mean to the free world.
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Re: McChrystal: Urgent, we are about to fail in Afghanistan

Post by Chalkperson » Sat Sep 26, 2009 2:33 am

Cyril Ignatius wrote:
Barry wrote:
Cyril Ignatius wrote:We need to get out of Afghanistan. The military objectives aren't clear and concrete enough. We can't fight to win because the politicians are more interested in the war's effect on their poll numbers than larger issues of national security or the reality of the war at ground level. Afghanistan is not a normal place. This isn't a normal war. Expect a steady procession of Americans coming back in body bags while onlookers stateside ring their hands.
I think it goes without saying that when you decide to go beyond merely treading water to taking firmer steps to achieve a degree of success, that more American soldiers are going to get killed. I posted an article by Robert Kaplan in the spring that spelled out that if the President's then new commitment to fighting a more comprehensive counterinsurgency war is actually carried out, that there would be a significant increase in casualties, and that a test of the will of both the President and the country would follow.
Also, while I don't know all of the details, I don't think you're right that General McChrystal has no clear military objectives. I think he (and Petraeus) have a good idea of what needs to be done, and they obviously think they don't have enough troops at this point to do it.
If the General has objectives, the question is, does the President support those objectives, and in particular, are the President AND the General BOTH willing to fight the war in such a way as to win quickly. Or will American soldiers be under the same tight operational limitations they have been, while the enemy has none? If so, rhetorical support for the war, or specific objectives therein will prove meaningless and ultimately, deceptive. And if Obama tentatively supports the war, will he support the actual actions that will WIN the war, win it soon, and avoid a long drawn out bloodbath? Doubtful. Very doubtful. What I'm afraid will happen is we will stay in Afghanistan, but not really fight to win. And that we will take such great steps to avoid collateral damage, that victory will not occur, or will be long in the coming - and at great cost of American lives. Better to get out now. Most of our leaders don't want to learn from history. They want to use the war as one more way to micromanage their poll ratings. The areas they will fight in and the conditions of the fight will make Afghanistan a hell-hole for American soldiers. We have spectacular pain coming our way if we don't face these realities down. I feel sorry for the soldiers....If I were 18 or 20, I would NEVER sign up - having even a small inkling of what these guys got waiting for them in Afghanistan!
I will quote Condi Rice..."If you want Al Quada to strike in America again then cut and run from Afghanistan"... :wink:
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Re: McChrystal: Urgent, we are about to fail in Afghanistan

Post by Chalkperson » Sat Sep 26, 2009 5:35 pm

Cyril Ignatius wrote:It won't suffice for whom? This war has human tragedy written all over it. Afghanistan will be the valley of death for American soldiers. And for what? What gains will their presence on the ground achieve beyond what surgical strikes from the air could accomplish? And at what cost to American soldiers? American soldiers on the ground in Afghanistan is an invitation to the mindless suffering/torture and death of American soldiers. Send the troops home.
Werner wrote:If life were only that simple! Yes, mistakes were made in Iraq, lives were put in harm's way, and we've been reading in Chalkie's daily posts about the awful things that can happen young men like Kevin and their families in the course of war. So it's easy to adopt the motto of pacifism and just say, let's go home - even if Cyril's motivation in making that statement was something different from pacifism.
Kevin was blown up in Afghanistan by a Suicide Truck Bomb, he's missing half his brain, but, that kid has more guts that anybody I have ever met, and I have met a number of Incredibly Brave and Highly Decorated Soldiers, if you have not done so check the thread about him, Cyril, then tell me you think we should run away, Almost a Thousand Soldiers have died in Afghanistan, a lot of them Brits, do you really want them to have died in vain...
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Re: McChrystal: Urgent, we are about to fail in Afghanistan

Post by Cyril Ignatius » Mon Sep 28, 2009 9:27 am

Chalkperson wrote:
Cyril Ignatius wrote:It won't suffice for whom? This war has human tragedy written all over it. Afghanistan will be the valley of death for American soldiers. And for what? What gains will their presence on the ground achieve beyond what surgical strikes from the air could accomplish? And at what cost to American soldiers? American soldiers on the ground in Afghanistan is an invitation to the mindless suffering/torture and death of American soldiers. Send the troops home.
Werner wrote:If life were only that simple! Yes, mistakes were made in Iraq, lives were put in harm's way, and we've been reading in Chalkie's daily posts about the awful things that can happen young men like Kevin and their families in the course of war. So it's easy to adopt the motto of pacifism and just say, let's go home - even if Cyril's motivation in making that statement was something different from pacifism.
Kevin was blown up in Afghanistan by a Suicide Truck Bomb, he's missing half his brain, but, that kid has more guts that anybody I have ever met, and I have met a number of Incredibly Brave and Highly Decorated Soldiers, if you have not done so check the thread about him, Cyril, then tell me you think we should run away, Almost a Thousand Soldiers have died in Afghanistan, a lot of them Brits, do you really want them to have died in vain...
This is a good point. And almost always is. This is one of the eternal dilemmas of war. Will those who fought already have died in vain.....

Even though the generals rightly believe that keeping ground troops in Afghanistan, and in particular, sending more in, are militarily sensible, I am questioning the larger human costs compared to the gains. I don't doubt the military's arguments as for the utility of troops. I am suggesting that we simply accept the limits of air-strikes and other options short of putting our troops on the ground in Afghanistan. We have plenty sufficient means using airstrikes to more than cripple the terrorist groups.

Although the committing of troops will allow additional thngs to be done that can't be done from the air, I am doubting whether their use in this particular war is worth all the torture, suffering and heartache it will bring. Better to use troops when the military objectives are simple, straight forward and achievable in a timely fashion. Such conditions don't exist in Afghanistan. Afghanistan will be a nasty bog for America if we put troops in.
Cyril Ignatius

JackC
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Re: McChrystal: Urgent, we are about to fail in Afghanistan

Post by JackC » Mon Sep 28, 2009 9:51 am

Cyril Ignatius wrote:
Chalkperson wrote:
Cyril Ignatius wrote:It won't suffice for whom? This war has human tragedy written all over it. Afghanistan will be the valley of death for American soldiers. And for what? What gains will their presence on the ground achieve beyond what surgical strikes from the air could accomplish? And at what cost to American soldiers? American soldiers on the ground in Afghanistan is an invitation to the mindless suffering/torture and death of American soldiers. Send the troops home.
Werner wrote:If life were only that simple! Yes, mistakes were made in Iraq, lives were put in harm's way, and we've been reading in Chalkie's daily posts about the awful things that can happen young men like Kevin and their families in the course of war. So it's easy to adopt the motto of pacifism and just say, let's go home - even if Cyril's motivation in making that statement was something different from pacifism.
Kevin was blown up in Afghanistan by a Suicide Truck Bomb, he's missing half his brain, but, that kid has more guts that anybody I have ever met, and I have met a number of Incredibly Brave and Highly Decorated Soldiers, if you have not done so check the thread about him, Cyril, then tell me you think we should run away, Almost a Thousand Soldiers have died in Afghanistan, a lot of them Brits, do you really want them to have died in vain...
This is a good point. And almost always is. This is one of the eternal dilemmas of war. Will those who fought already have died in vain.....

Even though the generals rightly believe that keeping ground troops in Afghanistan, and in particular, sending more in, are militarily sensible, I am questioning the larger human costs compared to the gains. I don't doubt the military's arguments as for the utility of troops. I am suggesting that we simply accept the limits of air-strikes and other options short of putting our troops on the ground in Afghanistan. We have plenty sufficient means using airstrikes to more than cripple the terrorist groups.

Although the committing of troops will allow additional thngs to be done that can't be done from the air, I am doubting whether their use in this particular war is worth all the torture, suffering and heartache it will bring. Better to use troops when the military objectives are simple, straight forward and achievable in a timely fashion. Such conditions don't exist in Afghanistan. Afghanistan will be a nasty bog for America if we put troops in.
Well, I think you have to decide whether keeping the Taliban from regaining control of Afghanistan is worth it. I think it is. If they do get control then Al queda has its safe haven again. (And the Taliban is so foul sometimes it's hard to tell the difference. Shooting women in the the head in a soccer stadium for violating Sharia law on morals is disgusting)

The idea that you can control what is going on on the ground with drone airplanes circling overheard firing missiles seems ridiculous to me.

If you don't think it is worth it to keep the Taliban from regaining control, then by all means, let's leave and see of we can hit a few camels in the butt from overhead.

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Re: McChrystal: Urgent, we are about to fail in Afghanistan

Post by Cyril Ignatius » Mon Sep 28, 2009 10:05 am

JackC wrote:
Cyril Ignatius wrote:
Chalkperson wrote:
Cyril Ignatius wrote:It won't suffice for whom? This war has human tragedy written all over it. Afghanistan will be the valley of death for American soldiers. And for what? What gains will their presence on the ground achieve beyond what surgical strikes from the air could accomplish? And at what cost to American soldiers? American soldiers on the ground in Afghanistan is an invitation to the mindless suffering/torture and death of American soldiers. Send the troops home.
Werner wrote:If life were only that simple! Yes, mistakes were made in Iraq, lives were put in harm's way, and we've been reading in Chalkie's daily posts about the awful things that can happen young men like Kevin and their families in the course of war. So it's easy to adopt the motto of pacifism and just say, let's go home - even if Cyril's motivation in making that statement was something different from pacifism.
Kevin was blown up in Afghanistan by a Suicide Truck Bomb, he's missing half his brain, but, that kid has more guts that anybody I have ever met, and I have met a number of Incredibly Brave and Highly Decorated Soldiers, if you have not done so check the thread about him, Cyril, then tell me you think we should run away, Almost a Thousand Soldiers have died in Afghanistan, a lot of them Brits, do you really want them to have died in vain...
This is a good point. And almost always is. This is one of the eternal dilemmas of war. Will those who fought already have died in vain.....

Even though the generals rightly believe that keeping ground troops in Afghanistan, and in particular, sending more in, are militarily sensible, I am questioning the larger human costs compared to the gains. I don't doubt the military's arguments as for the utility of troops. I am suggesting that we simply accept the limits of air-strikes and other options short of putting our troops on the ground in Afghanistan. We have plenty sufficient means using airstrikes to more than cripple the terrorist groups.

Although the committing of troops will allow additional thngs to be done that can't be done from the air, I am doubting whether their use in this particular war is worth all the torture, suffering and heartache it will bring. Better to use troops when the military objectives are simple, straight forward and achievable in a timely fashion. Such conditions don't exist in Afghanistan. Afghanistan will be a nasty bog for America if we put troops in.
Well, I think you have to decide whether keeping the Taliban from regaining control of Afghanistan is worth it. I think it is. If they do get control then Al queda has its safe haven again. (And the Taliban is so foul sometimes it's hard to tell the difference. Shooting women in the the head in a soccer stadium for violating Sharia law on morals is disgusting)

The idea that you can control what is going on on the ground with drone airplanes circling overheard firing missiles seems ridiculous to me.

If you don't think it is worth it to keep the Taliban from regaining control, then by all means, let's leave and see of we can hit a few camels in the butt from overhead.

The Taliban are highly poisonous and malignant. And they are increasingly global. There are particular qualities to Afghanistan relating to everything from the geography, to the culture that make this the wrong place to commit our troops. UNLESS, that is, we are willing to use a more aggressive, sweeping and intensive style of military engagement that will draw the anger of the world and involve much higher collateral damage. At this point in time, for political and diplomatic reasons, the United States is unwilling to use this approach. And under these current conditions, such as they are, we should strike by air only. If the situation is so grave as to warrant dramatic military action on our part, than engage accordingly, and let the world say what it will. Otherwise stay out.

Sadly, I am afraid that we will do neither of these things. We will keep our troops in there, and we will accept all international political, diplomatic and regulatory guidelines on engaging the enemy. Our boys will be tortured, maimed, and butchered; and they will be delivered home by the thousands in body bags. Why? Because our political leadership is so weak, uninspired and morally ungrounded.
Cyril Ignatius

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Re: McChrystal: Urgent, we are about to fail in Afghanistan

Post by Chalkperson » Mon Sep 28, 2009 11:53 am

Cyril Ignatius wrote:I am suggesting that we simply accept the limits of air-strikes and other options short of putting our troops on the ground in Afghanistan. We have plenty sufficient means using airstrikes to more than cripple the terrorist groups.
Nobody ever won a War from the Air, it'll never happen...
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Re: McChrystal: Urgent, we are about to fail in Afghanistan

Post by Cyril Ignatius » Mon Sep 28, 2009 12:16 pm

Chalkperson wrote:
Cyril Ignatius wrote:I am suggesting that we simply accept the limits of air-strikes and other options short of putting our troops on the ground in Afghanistan. We have plenty sufficient means using airstrikes to more than cripple the terrorist groups.
Nobody ever won a War from the Air, it'll never happen...
History isn't a completely reliable guide on an issue where technological change has so overwhelmingly transformed the dynamics of war. The other problem we have here is that the only way to actualy "win" a war against the Taliban and Islamofascism more generally is essentially to exterminate them militarily. Do you want to do this? Obama sure isn't politically prepared to do this. Our current efforts won't do this. What are the objectives of the war in Afghanistan? What are the expectations?
Cyril Ignatius

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