Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Do Loose Lips Sink Generals?


Maybe, in this case.

By now, you've mostly heard that General Stanley McChrystal, our commander in Afghanistan is in a world of hurt over an in depth profile of him in Rolling Stone magazine entitled 'Runaway General'.

According to the piece,written by Michael Hastings, McChrystal and a number of unnamed aides engaged in serial mockery of a number of Administration figures including Obama, NSC James Jones,( "a clown") VP Joe Biden("who?"), Ambassador Eikenberry and Special Envoy Richard Holcombe( "a wounded animal").

The story also includes a description of McChrystal's staff boozing it up at an Irish pub in Paris, "two officers doing an Irish jig mixed with steps from a traditional Afghan wedding dance," and singing slurred, intoxicated songs about "Afghanistan, Afghanistan."

Once the profile hit the streets, the fit really hit the shan. McChrystal was promptly called home, where he is scheduled to meet personally with President Obama.

A number of the usual suspects are calling for McChrystal to be fired.

Certainly in terms of what almost amounts to insubordination, it would be justified and the word is that McChrystal has already tendered his resignation and Obama is mulling over a substitute.

So...was this just poor judgment on the general's part? I don't think so.

Someone who goes through West Point, Ranger training, survives combat and rises in the ranks the way McChrystal has is definitely not stupid. He had to know who the writer was, who Rolling Stone was and what was likely to come out in the article.

What this was in my opinion was a deliberate move on his part, a sort of career sepukku, a way for him to get of it honorably.

Our war in Afghanistan is a car driving on the freeway with its wheels coming off. The part of the RS article no one is discussing much concerns the failure of our strategy there. Obama's campaign promises about getting our European allies to put more troops into 'the good war' were nothing but unicorn fantasy, as anyone who observed Obama's competency in handling a Senate committee charged with exactly that could have noticed. Our EU allies are leaving - Canada and The Netherlands, two of the few who actually have combat troops on the ground have already announced that they're departing.

The Afghans are either hostile or indifferent to yet another group of ferenghi infidels occupying their country, and the Karzai government despises Obama and pretty much every US government functionary except McChrystal.

The Kandahar offensive is bogged down, al-Qaida and the Taliban have pretty much regrouped in Pakistan and come over at their leisure and a lot of our warriors on the ground recognize that COIN is a failure, and that the 'hearts and minds' rules of engagements are unnecessarily endangering their lives.

At this point, McChrystal knows COIN is a failure too, but given the dynamics of the Obama Administration and its stake in appeasing the Muslim world, he knows he isn't going to be able to change what needs to be changed

The only reason it worked to some degree in Iraq was because al-Qaeda was mostly composed of non-Iraqi foreigners and were incredibly brutal to the locals, to the point where bribing the leaders of the Sunni Awakening movement seemed like the lesser of two evils. And Iraq is a lot more of a cohesive country than Afghanistan has ever been.

As those of you whom read me regularly know, I've had a number of things to say about Afghanistan, a lot of it based on what I'm hearing from men on the ground. The incredible things our warriors have accomplished there are almost beyond belief, but the fact is that there is no 'win' there, no objective to obtain. The only reason for the surge was because of Obama's chest thumping campaign rhetoric about the 'real war', as opposed to Iraq - where ironically, things are relatively quiescent.

Assuming McChrystal is history, I'm not sure whom Obama is likely to get to replace him. Hopefully, a change in command will result in an entirely new strategy for the AfPak region, but given who's in the White House these days I have my doubts.

(via Memeorandum)

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