Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The circular firing squad begins in Afghanistan?

Kevin Drum observes that our general in Afghanistan, Stanley McChrystal, has a wee problem. He quotes FoxNews [sic]:
An article out this week in "Rolling Stone" magazine depicts Gen. Stanley McChrystal as a lone wolf on the outs with many important figures in the Obama administration and unable to convince even some of his own soldiers that his strategy can win the war. A band of McChrystal's profane, irreverent aides are quoted mocking Vice President Joe Biden and Richard Holbrooke, the special U.S. representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

....The article claims McChrystal has seized control of the war "by never taking his eye off the real enemy: The wimps in the White House."
Lovely. Particularly as I'm reading Craig's The Politics of the Prussian Army.

Drum's post has more, including a link to a good Marc Ambinder piece on the fiasco. A later Drum post relays a report that McChrystal may not be toast after this; the title, "McChrystal Coming to DC to Apologize," reminds me of a scene from The Empire Strikes Back: "Apology accepted, Captain Needa."

Tom Ricks' first reaction, meanwhile, is that McChrystal will be otherwise assigned within a week, replaced either by a slummin' Petraeus or by James Mattis. Predictions are fun!

The bottom line may be spelled out by one of Ricks' commenters:
This is the kind of stuff that happens when you are losing or at least not winning your war. If they were accomplishing their mission with their prescribed ‘strategy’ they would be falling over each other claiming credit. They very fact that something like this happens is the canary in the cage warning that the air is toxic.


  1. If the purpose of the Afghanistan war was to punish the Taliban for giving safe haven to Al Quida, we did that long ago. If we have changed our purpose to the creation of a stable, Western-style democracy, we must and shall fail.

    During the political campaign, the Democrats portrayed Afghanistan as the "good" war and Iraq as the "bad" war. I think both are probably bad, but there is an outside chance that Iraq could become a somewhat normal nation. There is absolutely no chance of this in Afghanistan.

    We need to declare victory and come home from Afghanistan. Leaving Iraq is a bit more difficult, but getting it stable should be our first priority, at which point we should try our best to get out.

  2. Afghanistan's war was a logical consequence of 9/11; Iraq's war was sheer stupidity.

    By switching over to Iraq, we squandered whatever small opportunity we had in Afghanistan.

    That said, the milk it hath spilt, and I don't think we can Build a Nation in Afghanistan. I think Biden was basically right: focus on raiding the terrorists and otherwise, let the country stagger to its own feet.