Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Winning In Afghanistan - A Reply To Michael Yon

Michael Yon is one of my favorite bloggers, a man who deserves the title 'journalist' so much more than any number of those who supposedly get paid to do it.

Recently he published a short, pessimistic piece of Afghanistan that essentially says we're wasting our time there.

Unfortunately, we don't have the luxury of simply leaving it to its own devices and letting it become the staging ground for the next 9/11.

There is a way to win in Afghanistan, provided we have realistic goals, realize that Afghanistan and Pakistan are two parts of the same problem and proceed accordingly. I don't for a moment believe the present clueless administration would implement this, but for interested parties, the details are here


Ymarsakar said...

I don't think his point was that we are wasting our time. Rather, his point (and this is in line with the way he always fashions his criticisms) is that the methods in which Afghanistan is being fought are incorrect. Expectations are wrong, and thus methodologies are wrong.

He won't come out and say this, just like he didn't come out and say COIN or X/Y/Z were what was needed in Iraq to avert a "civil war", but that's what he thinks.

And since Yon is former SF, communications or weapons specialization last I heard, it is not like he doesn't get it. It is that he chooses not to say it in the specifics. Either because, perhaps, he believes he isn't cut out to be telling the higher ups exactly what to do, perhaps because he knows he would be armchair generaling the war if he did so, or perhaps because he knows what's wrong but not what is right, but in the end, this is his historic operation parameter.

His vagueness also produces misunderstandings concerning his point. And he did get mad on his site concerning some comment or argument he had with some radio host, he called it a conservative radio host, that didn't like Yon calling the Iraq war a civil war. Instead of telling the host or his readers that this is a misunderstanding based upon Yon's perspective and the more domestic American perspective concerning partisan politics over the usage "civil war", Yon made it an issue about his own personal credibility being challenged. He didn't have to do it that way, but he did. He is not dumb and he is not a traitor, so the only explanation left is that he didn't see it. That this is his natural inclination on things. And nothing he has done lately has changed my view of that.

SF people, ODA detachment people, are particularly what would be called in today's world, "arrogant". Except it is the type of arrogance that can be backed up. Yon goes back to the front, again and again, and he backs down to no one. Why? Because nobody that can make it through the SF Q course lacks guts and determination. They may be jerks and Blue Falcons or have personality quirks and problems, but they are not gutless and they are not "non-aggressive non-entities", is the way I heard it phrased. When they have an opinion, they won't back down from it, especially not if their fellow SF team members nag them on it. AlphaGeek mentioned this particular facet when he wrote some training stories (like SF needing to grow beards but Army guys just being disgusted by the practice, in Afghanistan).

But what this means for Yon is that he is not as diplomatic as, say, General Petraeus. There is a notable lack of polish. Of course, this is nothing strange or unexpected. Petraeus got to where he is because he had the polish and the skills.

Remember when Yon was calling for more troops in Iraq? Yon knew what the Democrats were saying and doing in Iraq on this score, yet Yon didn't differentiate his position from the Dems. Was he unaware of Democrat propaganda concerning this score? Of course not, how could he be given that every time he reported on something in Iraq, he noted that it was something you wouldn't get from the MSM? He wasn't ignorant. He just chose not to mention it. He chose to mention the fact that more troops were needed in Iraq, independent of any political reality on the ground here in the US. And after Petraeus and the Surge, he kept mentioning how he was right but never mentioning the fact that this wasn't how the average American pro-Iraqi individual in the US would have taken Yon's comments about more troops before the Surge. When Dems were calling for more troops in Iraq. They would have seen it as a support for the Democrat plan. This is also something McCain is guilty of. Neo brought to my attention an essay McCain had written which spelled out specific counter-insurgency adaptations required for a "more troops" strategy to work. Except whenever I try to remember his mug on CNN and Fox News, McCain never mentioned it at all. He made no attempt to differentiate his views from the traitorous Dems.

McCain knew what was going on and chose to ignore it. Thus it was kind of hard to argue after the fact that he was right on Iraq, cause people's memories are a little bit fickle on this score.

In both cases, neither can claim ignorance. Maybe Yon up in the frontlines can say he wasn't paying attention to politics, but he can't say that months after the fact.

For Yon, I would surmise that it was just a basis of interest and focus. He wasn't interested in politics. Just what was going on on the ground in Iraq. But that isn't a very strategic perspective, if you understand what I mean. Especially not if you are arguing your own view concerning grand strategy, as Yon was and is in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Now, I haven't read everything Yon has written. It is quite possible there are some inconsistencies I haven't accounted for in my analysis due to this facet. But as time goes on, nothing Yon has done or written violates any core pillars that support the core of my analysis. In fact, it solidifies the analysis. Yon's latest on Afghanistan is just as devoid of political context and details as was his comments on Iraq, civil war or no civil war.

Freedom Fighter said...

I think you have a pretty good read on this Ymarsakar. Yon is a good guy -It's just my nature to analyze things like this and figure out how to make them work.

Which is easy of course,since I have no official position and thus no job or turf to defend.I can just comcentrate on what I think would would work.

I'm sure you'll have something to say about that at the other link!

All Good Things,