Afghanistan Options and Decisions
Friday, November 20, 2009
There is a good piece today in the Washington Post by David Gerson about the soup sandwich that the decision-avoiding process about Afghanistan has become. He discusses the leaks from pro and con sides re. a troop increase and points out a major problem for achieving success if he does send more forces.
Military-civilian tensions are growing and have become reflected on the ground in Afghanistan. One key to the success of the surge in Iraq was the close cooperation of Gen. David Petraeus, in charge of military operations, and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, who led the civilian efforts. McChrystal and Eikenberry seem to have a different relationship.
That is putting it mildly, if I was Eikenberry I would keep an eye out for McChrystal's old buddies at JSOC and their black helicopters. If Obama decides to send more troops he should also fire Eikenberry. You cannot have the top civilian there in direct opposition to the strategy. I don't see any way for them to work together effectively, and Eikenberry was never a good choice in the first place. The President also needs to boot Richard Holbrooke from his role as chief agitator since he is no longer someone Karzai will tolerate. The administration tried to orchestrate a coup of sorts to remove Karzai or force him to share power w/ Abdullah. Both Eikenberry and Holbrooke were involved and now are tainted. Boot them and replace them with someone who knows the area, people and culture. Like maybe Zalmay Khalilzad.
A dysfunctional process on Afghanistan has begun to narrow the range of good outcomes. The time and the options in Afghanistan are limited. "As an analogy," says David Kilcullen, an expert on counterinsurgency strategy, "you have a building on fire, and it's got a bunch of firemen inside. There are not enough firemen to put it out. You have to send in more or you have to leave. It is not appropriate to stand outside pontificating about not taking lightly the responsibility of sending firemen into harm's way. Either put in enough firemen to put the fire out or get out of the house."
That is precisely correct and half steps won't cut it. Make the call sir!