We are now approaching the point where Obama's indecisiveness becomes shameful. He has made any number of decisions affecting this country in huge ways, but our troops at war in Afghanistan must wait while he tries to triangulate a politically expedient way to deny Gen. McChrystal's request for the troops he needs to succeed. Now we hear that the decision may wait until after a run off election.
The question at the heart of the matter, said President Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, is not “how many troops you send, but do you have a credible Afghan partner for this process that can provide the security and the type of services that the Afghan people need?” ...
He echoed the thoughts of Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, a top Obama ally and the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, who said in a separate interview from Kabul, “I don’t see how President Obama can make a decision about the committing of our additional forces, or even the further fulfillment of our mission that’s here today, without an adequate government in place.”
It is pretty sad when a ballerina and a man repudiated by 21 of the 22 officers he briefly served with in Vietnam represent our brain trust on military strategy. Add in the VP and his magic ninja plan and you have half of the advice the President is getting about Afghanistan. It is ludicrous to claim we need to wait until after a runoff to make a decision. Does any sentient being think someone other than Karzai will win? And if Abdullah x2 does happen to win, is that a reason to bail? This is more sorry political posturing, and feels to me like they want to put off a tough call now so they don't alienate the left wing, who they need to shove socialized medicine up our collective ass.
The magic ninja option now has a much more marketable tagline "Go deep" as opposed to McChrystal's COIN being "Go big". While that may be helpful in the media narrative and trying to sell it to a Congress that doesn't want to be on the hook for helping lose the war, it doesn't make the idea any more viable. It is a pie in the sky wish, wrapped in hope that ain't gonna change a thing. It is a precursor play to allow cover for those who want to withdraw, but don't want to say they agree to defeat. Herschel Smith rips it a new one over at the Captain's Journal.
If we do not decide to win there, we will embolden and empower the Taliban and it's embedded al Qaeda allies. They will redouble efforts to build an Islamist state encompassing most if not all of both Afghanistan and Pakistan. And instead of having to look for the bad guys in an identified pocket near the border, they will have many more safe havens. If you think that the al Qaeda elements will be happy with just a little mountain paradise, you are a fool as well as an infidel. Sharia creeps,and the Caliphate remains the long war goal for what will then be the strong horse that threw out another super power on it's ass. They will recruit worldwide and they will be looking for other Islamist-leaning targets. Oh and as we show that we are not in it to win it, do you think for a second the Pakistanis are going to keep up their efforts, not bloody likely, They will cut a deal and then hope for the best. That puts their nukes in play as the brass ring the jihadis get if they play their cards right.
There is no guarantee that a pop-centric COIN strategy will succeed. There is no reason at all to believe that going deep into magic ninja fantasies will. McChrystal was our head pipe hitter for 5 years; he said it is fantasy. He would know. The only bright play is a fully-resourced COIN strategy paired with increased Counterterror (CT) ops as well. CT will only work well if we keep the bad guys pushed in a corner and we have help from the populace or at least stop them from providing help to the Talibs.
You're in the Commander in Chief chair now President Obama, make the call!
Warrior Legacy Institute will release a follow on paper to it's Population-centric COIN primer on the topic of Counterterror strategy tomorrow along with supporting videos for each. We will be hosting a virtual symposium on the best way forward in Afghanistan over the next week. We are inviting thoughts on the topic and will publish the results of the discussion, as well as forwarding them to the National Security Council.