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.