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McChrystal Doesn’t Get It—Does Obama?

Posted on Oct 29, 2009
AP / David Guttenfelder

U.S. Marines walk through the sand inside Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan’s Helmand province.

By Scott Ritter

(Page 3)

Of course, the future is not yet set in stone. The decision to dispatch more troops, although the subject of much rumor and speculation, has been delayed pending the final dispensation of Afghanistan’s controversial presidential election. One can only hope that President Obama will take advantage of this timely “pause” to reconsider his options regarding Afghanistan beyond the single-minded rush to reinforce a current policy the U.S. military has acknowledged as having gone nowhere in the eight years of American military engagement.

Vice President Joe Biden had earlier proposed a policy course that would have de-emphasized military engagement with the Taliban, focusing instead on rooting out the forces of al-Qaida still operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan. President Obama was reportedly not sold on Biden’s thinking when it was first presented last March. Perhaps now, upon reflection, the president will do the right thing and reduce America’s military involvement in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, either along the lines proposed by Vice President Biden, or through some other mechanism. There is no military solution to the problems facing the United States today in Afghanistan, and thus the correct course of action is to de-militarize the situation by reducing, not expanding, America’s military presence.

Clearly Gen. Stanley McChrystal is not the man for this task. He should be replaced by someone within the ranks of the U.S. military who shares Obama’s vision of peace, and with it the need to redefine the mission in South Asia. The legitimate requirements of American national security will not be satisfied by any massive military commitment to the region. Hopefully, President Obama will recognize this fact and get out. That would be a sign of greatness, and present to the American people and the rest of the world a leader worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Scott Ritter is a former Marine intelligence officer, chief U.N. weapons inspector and the author of numerous books on foreign policy.


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By ChaoticGood, October 29, 2009 at 10:40 pm Link to this comment

There is no military solution in Afganistan.  As long as there are warlords who command the loyalties of the Afgan people, there can be no strong central government.

The people who artificially drew lines on a map and called it Afganistan, did not realise that it really should have been called the Pakistan tribal homeland.  That would have been far closer to the truth.  The tribal map would look very different and that is the one that should govern our actions in that area.

The General probably understands this fact, but must try to explain how he intends to “win” something that cannot be defined in modern American terms.

The only American analogy would be something such as asking General Custer how he intends to pacify the Indian nations.  America tamed its indigenous people by killing most of them and that is exactly what we will have to do to the Afgans if we want to win militarily.  Since that expediency is out of the question, then what is left?

The only way forward is a massive committment to nation-building.  Are we willing to build roads, schools, provide police, fire and medical care.
Also we need to provide jobs and protection from Taliban adventurism.  This means hundreds of billions of dollars invested and thousands more lives lost.

Also, what are we going to do about the real reasons for Pakistani tolerance of the Taliban.  You know, that pesky India/Pakistan problem that goes on and on.  Thats the one that Pakistani officials use to keep the minds of their people on how much they should hate India and keep their minds off how much money those same officials are stealing from the Pakistani treasury. 

Are we willing to do this for at least two generations?  This is what it will take to “win”.
Don’t we have problems at home that we should be tending to?

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