Maybe let's try a different approach.
By now it should be McChrystal clear that Iraq should not work as an example of what to do in Afghanistan. The splurge of resources (it's been called 'surge') did not settle anything.
Just look at this morning's news: More than 127 Iraqis are killed by five explosions orchestrated in Baghdad. As soon as we begin to draw forces down, the uncivil warriors which Bush's wanton invasion loosed, are loose again. Nothing lasting has been gained through General Petreaus' venture. The resumption of internecine ethnic cleansing between the Kurds, Shia, and Sunnite militia waits for further American redeployment.
In Afghanistan, where empires go to die, splurging or surging will not work any better. In this latter war of choice, we are dealing with a medieval, non-state. It's a irregular chess board of inpentratable valleys and hard rock mountains, the way Matt Hoh describes it. There never has been a central government in Afghanistan. It's an oxymoron to speak of rebuilding state infrastructures; there are no foundations there.
McChrystal's idea is to train an Afghan National Army (ANA). Such an entity exists only in acronyms. There's no need to train Afghans how to bear arms. Afghans don't need no 2nd amendment. They know shooting and bombing. If you really want a nation-state in Afghanistan, and you should have given that some thought before now, there's no secret about who can muster enough blood and iron to weld something new and different out of Chaosistan. That would be some conglomeration of the war lords and the Taliban who aren't as logistically challenged as is NATO. And please, let's not forget that that acronym stands for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
This whole thing started as a mandated retaliation for the 9/11 attacks and pursuit of the brains behind it. We all remember now how and why George Bush diverted our posse away from getting this outlaw, Osama bin Laden, 'dead or alive' as he promised. Our lingering presence in Afghanistan morphed, through inattention as much as through anything else, into an indefinite occupation. Now there is an insurrection. Who can be surprised by that?
What is surprising is that the man I supported as a presidential candidate, the author whose books I read, can't deliver on his promise to enact change we can believe in. It's fully expected that successful candidates campaign in poetry and govern in prose. Once in the White House, the American People expect of their president a full reassessment of all things foreign and domestic. Now, I understand that his agenda is overloaded with domestic items as well as global problems. If he hasn't been able to personally re-think it all from top to bottom - that's understandable. That's what his aids and advisors are supposed to do for him.
But what he has apparently done is entrust Afghanistan and Iraqistan to the same people to whom Bush ended up entrusting his bloddy messes: the uniforms and suits in the Pentagon. And to service their enduring agendas, these latter agenda-setters have led my putative Agent-of-Change around by the short hairs.
This whole thing about 2012 is an example. Obama says one thing and the guys and girls in his own administration say another. We hear:
"2011 is not a cliff, it's a ramp."We old-timers know this kind of formula leads no where but to endless war & occupation.
"To be determined down the road"
"The beginning, not the end, of Afghan withdrawal"
"Troops there ... are not leaving in July of 2011."
"Some handful, or some small number, or whatever the conditions permit, will begin to withdraw at that time."
"Don't consider this an exit strategy."
"2011 is not a cliff, it's a ramp."
"We're going to be in the region for a long time."
"We're not going to be walking away from Afghanistan again."
"We're not talking about an abrupt withdrawal, we're talking about that something that will take place over a period of time."
"There could be tens of thousands of American troops in Afghanistan for several years."
The answer is certainly not to shut up and get out of the way. The answer is to stand up and speak up. It should be taught in chapter one of the Presidential Handbook: no foreign military adventures to faraway lands without first ensuring the confidence and support of the American people. Obama doesn't have it and I don't think even he can get it from his bully pulpit.
The 4th branch of government, the mainstream media, is doing its best not to check or balance. As it did with Bush, the MSM is trying to make do by satisfying its increasingly questioning and skeptical audience with stenographers instead of journalists. This isn't going to cut it; it's too late in the game for this generation of Americans. Arianna Huffington reminds us,
Actually, over the past eight years it's been much easier to cheerlead than to criticize. It's hard to look back at those years and their two wars and conclude that the problem is that we've had too much criticism. Shouldn't decisions that require enormous costs -- in blood as well as resources -- be met with ferocious questioning by the media? Articles sent to academic journals get more rigorous vetting these days than do decisions to escalate wars.It will not do to support the so-called mission as a way to support the troops. Whatever this mission is, it is not in the interests of the American people.
....Sadly ... Obama isn't distancing himself from "the Left" with his decision to escalate this deepening disaster. He's distancing himself from the national interests of the country.