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Shakrai's Journal: George Will Has Really Soured on Afghanistan 20

Journal by Shakrai

New op-ed, titled McChrystal had to go. Will makes some pretty compelling arguments against our strategy in Afghanistan. Some highlights:

It may be said that McChrystal's defect is only a deficit of political acumen. Only? Again, the mission in Afghanistan is much more political than military. Counterinsurgency, as defined by McChrystal's successor, Gen. David Petraeus, and tepidly embraced by Barack Obama for a year or so, does not just involve nation-building, it is nation-building.

This does not require just political acumen; it requires the wisdom of Aristotle, the leadership skills of George Washington and the analytic sophistication of de Tocqueville. But, then, the grinding paradox of nation-building is this: No one with the aptitudes necessary for it would be rash or delusional enough to try it.

The McChrystal debacle comes as America's longest war is entering a surreal stage: The military is charged with a staggeringly complex task, the completion of which -- if completion can even be envisioned -- must involve many years. But when given the task, the military was told to begin bringing it to a close in a matter of 18 months.

It's a pity that we weren't smart enough to avoid this whole mess back in 2001. We ought to have used our own troops (along with the aerial mines that Bush and Rumsfeld refused to approve) at Tora Bora, captured or killed OBL, left the keys to the country by the door on our way out along with a note that said "If you host terrorist organizations again we'll come back and mess you up again." It should never have been our mission to try and spread our system of government or moral values to a region of the world that's effectively living in the Middle Ages.

BTW, I believe that the President handled the McChrystal mess effectively. He clearly had to go. I also think that Petraeus is the best man for the job though I'm in agreement with George Will's assessment of it as a fool's errand. Petraeus was successful in Iraq because the Iraqi people decided that bombing their country back into the Middle Ages was not an effective long term strategy. The Taliban leadership seems to desire such an outcome. It remains to be seen if the American people or our President have the stomach to stay there long enough to find out if the foot soldiers of the Taliban desire the same outcome.

This discussion was created by Shakrai (717556) for no Foes, but now has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

George Will Has Really Soured on Afghanistan

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  • I think people who say we necessarily could've killed or captured Bin Laden are full of crap. The truth is that we have no idea.

    But we had no business staying in Afghanistan beyond some slight help getting a new non-Taliban gov't off the ground. We did that a long time ago. We should not be there, and I've believed that for a long time now.

    As to McChrystal, yes, he had to go, because, clearly, he's a racist (else he never would have criticized Obama). But worse than that, he said things he knew would ge

    • by Bakkster (1529253)

      As to McChrystal, yes, he had to go, because, clearly, he's a racist (else he never would have criticized Obama). But worse than that, he said things he knew would get him fired. Makes me wonder why he said them.

      It's easy to know why he said the things he did. He's a soldier, for one. And who doesn't say bad things about their boss behind his back?

      The only thing I can fault him for is saying (and letting his subordinates say) what he did in front of a reporter. Complaining is a valid stress relief/coping strategy, but only until the subject of your ire catches wind of it.

      I don't put much into the theory that McChrystal did this intentionally to get fired. The guy runs 7-8 miles daily, eats only 1 meal, and sl

      • by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot

        It's easy to know why he said the things he did. He's a soldier, for one. And who doesn't say bad things about their boss behind his back?

        He's a high-ranking officer who serves directly under the President, and he said them in public: to a reporter. That's not private at all. He's not an idiot, he certainly knows better. Either he had an agenda of some kind (wanting to get his feelings published for some reason), or he just didn't care.

        I don't put much into the theory that McChrystal did this intentionally to get fired. The guy runs 7-8 miles daily, eats only 1 meal, and sleeps 4 hours a night. He doesn't seem like the type to give up or take the easy way out of a situation.

        It makes more sense than saying "he said all those things in front of a reporter by accident."

        • by Bakkster (1529253)

          It's easy to know why he said the things he did. He's a soldier, for one. And who doesn't say bad things about their boss behind his back?

          He's a high-ranking officer who serves directly under the President, and he said them in public: to a reporter. That's not private at all. He's not an idiot, he certainly knows better. Either he had an agenda of some kind (wanting to get his feelings published for some reason), or he just didn't care.

          Agreed. His 'error in judgment' was saying it to a reporter, not saying it in the first place.

          I don't put much into the theory that McChrystal did this intentionally to get fired. The guy runs 7-8 miles daily, eats only 1 meal, and sleeps 4 hours a night. He doesn't seem like the type to give up or take the easy way out of a situation.

          It makes more sense than saying "he said all those things in front of a reporter by accident."

          Reading the article, I think it sounds more like just forgetting to self-censor. Not that either of us will know who is right, and I don't think it particularly matters.

          • by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot

            Reading the article, I think it sounds more like just forgetting to self-censor.

            I just don't think he'd be that stupid.

            • by Bakkster (1529253)

              I just don't think he'd be that stupid.

              Nor do I. But he also seems too stubborn to give up or try to pass the buck. The fact that he hates social functions tells me it's reasonable that he is probably succeptible to social faux pas.

    • by Shakrai (717556) *

      I think people who say we necessarily could've killed or captured Bin Laden are full of crap.

      Nothing is certain, but we clearly would have had a better chance if we had used our own troops at Tora Bora instead of outsourcing the job to the locals -- many of whom were essentially Allies of Al Quada anyway. Additionally, our special forces guys on the ground wanted to use air dropped gator mines to seal off the routes into Pakistan but the White House refused to authorize it. Supposedly Bush and Rumsfeld were worried about the reaction of our NATO allies if we had used mines.

      As to McChrystal, yes, he had to go, because, clearly, he's a racist

      Hahahaha, nice :)

      But worse than that, he said things he knew would get him fired. Makes me wonder why he said them.

      Well

      • by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot

        clearly would have had a better chance if we had used our own troops at Tora Bora instead of outsourcing the job to the locals

        That's not clear at all.

        our special forces guys on the ground wanted to use air dropped gator mines to seal off the routes into Pakistan but the White House refused to authorize it

        And neither you, nor I, knows enough to know whether that would have worked, and what other negative consequences could have resulted from that, and why the decisions were made.

        Supposedly Bush and Rumsfeld were worried about the reaction of our NATO allies if we had used mines.

        And, perhaps, the consequences of pissing off Pakistan further would have been far worse than not killing or capturing Bin Laden.

        Well, if you read the Rolling Stone article, McChrystal really didn't say a whole lot.

        He said more than enough.

        Most of the serious griping came from his subordinates. In the military though that's essentially the same as him saying those things -- if he can't keep control over his own staff then how can Obama and Gates have any confidence in his ability to lead our troops?

        Somewhat true, yes. But also, in the military, everyone gripes, so it's not like anyone can make their staff not gripe. :-)

        • by Shakrai (717556) *

          That's not clear at all.

          Sorry, but it is. Our troops would not have broken off the fighting during the evening hours for the breaking of the Ramadan fasts. Our troops had not married into the Al Quada "family" as had many of the local tribesmen that we relied upon. You can't claim that it isn't "clear" our troops would have done a better job. Trained men and women that are loyal to the United States vs. untrained tribesmen whose loyalty was questionable and only existed because we purchased it.

          And, perhaps, the consequences of pissing off Pakistan further would have been far worse than not killing or capturing Bin Laden.

          Why would dropping mines on Afgh

          • by Bakkster (1529253)

            But also, in the military, everyone gripes, so it's not like anyone can make their staff not gripe. :-)

            No, but you should be able to make the officers under your command not gripe to reporters. Bitching about the politicians over a six pack of beer with your comrades is part of military life. Bitching about them to a reporter is an entirely different matter.

            Agreed, particularly when there is no rebuke when they make such comments in the presence of McChrystal himself. That's a tacit endorsement of the sentiment.

          • by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot

            That's not clear at all.

            Sorry, but it is.

            No, it's not. You bring up some "cons" for using local forces, but you ignore that there's "cons" to using our own forces, too. It is absolutely not clear our troops would've done a better job. We do not know.

            And, perhaps, the consequences of pissing off Pakistan further would have been far worse than not killing or capturing Bin Laden.

            Why would dropping mines on Afghan soil piss off Pakistan?

            Because Musharraf was already having a difficult time holding his country together without being killed, and this would have inflamed the Islamists in Pakistan even more (as our later attacks near the Pakistani border proved).

            More to the point, who gives a shit if it had pissed them off? The Bush Administration pissed off the majority of the world for the sake of invading Iraq but wasn't willing to piss off Pakistan and a few squeamish NATO allies for the sake of attempting to capture or kill the man that murdered thousands of Americans?

            You're missing the bigger picture. After 9/11, in the following days and

            • by Shakrai (717556) *

              and this would have inflamed the Islamists in Pakistan even more

              Tough shit. Thousands of Americans are dead. What happened to "You are either with us or against us"? I guess this is where I don't understand the logic. The Bush administration opted to piss off the majority of the world for the sake of a war of choice. It seems to me that we could have pissed them off for a shot at capturing or killing the individual responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans.

              After 9/11, in the following days and weeks, my main fear was that Pakistan would get pulled into the war, and that this would bring India into the war, which might bring China and Iran and Russia into the war.

              You are counseling caution for fear of escalation. I understand where you are coming from but I c

              • by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot

                and this would have inflamed the Islamists in Pakistan even more

                Tough shit. Thousands of Americans are dead.

                And if a regional war or World War results, even more Americans will die.

                I guess this is where I don't understand the logic.

                You don't understand the logic of avoiding a regional or World War?

                Pakistan would not have collapsed if we opted to use Gator mines in the mountain passes of Afghanistan. The Government there has survived dozens (hundreds?) of drone attacks on Pakistani soil -- it seems doubtful that the use of mines on Afgani soil would topple it.

                I don't think you really understand how close Musharraf was to losing control to the Islamists (many of whom were in his own government and military).

                • by Shakrai (717556) *

                  You don't understand the logic of avoiding a regional or World War?

                  The use of aerial mines and American troops at Tora Bora would not have instigated such a war. I have never heard the avoidance of such a war used as a justification for the decisions that were made there from anyone except you. Most of the people from the Bush team who have talked about it have made the claim that our NATO allies were opposed to the use of mines (even though the Gator mines have zero resemblance to the landmines that the Europeans spent so much time campaigning against in the 90s) and Bu

                  • by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot

                    You don't understand the logic of avoiding a regional or World War?

                    The use of aerial mines and American troops at Tora Bora would not have instigated such a war.

                    No. But it could have helped trigger revolution in Pakistan, and if the wrong side wins that, then THAT could lead to such a war.

                    I have never heard the avoidance of such a war used as a justification for the decisions that were made there from anyone except you.

                    OK. :-)

                    I understand more than you think

                    I don't doubt you know a lot, but I think you are downplaying this particular thing.

                    now tell me why the one time use of mines on Afgani soil would have been worse than the repeated use of drone attacks on Pakistani soil.

                    They happened at different times, for starters. Several years apart. Musharraf is no longer even in control, and the Islamists have been marginalized more, in part because we had Musharraf's back in the beginning.

                    Musharraf held on in spite of the fact that we were (are) routinely violating Pakistani sovereignty for the purpose of killing those same Islamists.

                    Well, that's an exagerration. There was a grand total of seven drone attack

                    • by Shakrai (717556) *

                      I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree on this one. I do understand where you are coming from but I can't get past the fact that we let the man who murdered thousands of Americans slip through our grasp.

                      It also upsets me that our leadership turned it into a nation-building exercise when it should have been nothing more than an intervention to punish those who were responsible for the 9/11 attacks. I really don't care if Afghanistan is governed by the Taliban or the Pashtun equivalent of Mother Tere

                    • by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot

                      I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree on this one. I do understand where you are coming from but I can't get past the fact that we let the man who murdered thousands of Americans slip through our grasp.

                      I honestly don't care a lot about that. What's far more important is protecting our security and liberty moving forward. It'd be great to catch him, but I will never lose sleep over it.

                      I agree with the rest of what you wrote.

                    • by Shakrai (717556) *

                      Out of curiosity, if we did manage to capture him what do you think his final deposition should be?

                      I had the idea a long time ago that he should be treated as another common criminal. Hand him over to the State of New York to face 2,700+ counts of first degree murder. If he's found guilty throw him into the general population at one of our finer maximum security prisons and let nature run it's course.

                      Of course that isn't likely to happen. His probable end will come from a hellfire missile. The sight o

                    • by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot

                      Whatever people want. I don't really care. The important part is that the people are satisfied with his punishment.

  • by Bill Dog (726542)

    It should never have been our mission to try and spread our system of government or moral values to a region of the world that's effectively living in the Middle Ages.

    I think you'd be hard-pressed to demonstrate that that ever was our mission. But in any event, military intervention, esp. nation-building, is something I'm torn on between the sensibilities of the neo and libertarian wings of the Right. I've kinda favored all along the idea of establishing a non-hating if not friendly to us nation that's stra

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