Small Wars Journal

Mr. President, Take Your Time on Afghanistan

Mr. President, Take Your Time on Afghanistan - Joseph L. Galloway, McClatchy Newspapers.

President Barack Obama has yet to decide where we're going and what we're doing in Afghanistan, but if the flood of leaks this week is any indicator, he at least has decided what he isn't going to do. He isn't going to be rushed into making such an important decision.

He seemingly is un—to buy a pig in a poke from any of the players - not from Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top US military commander in Afghanistan, who wants another 40,000 to 80,000 American troops; not from his own national security wizards who've proffered four different pigs in four different pokes; not from Vice President Joe Biden, who wants to leave the fight to Special Forces and unmanned Predators. The word is that none of the options contains what the president wants to see - an estimate of how many more years beyond the eight already invested would be needed and an exit strategy...

More at McClatchy Newspapers.


Barry (not verified)

Wed, 11/18/2009 - 11:26am

"Well, at least Mr Obama won't be able to whinge that he 'inherited' Gen McChrystal. "

Blue skies! -- Dan Ford

Posted by Oldpilot

You know, if *I* had left somebody such a mess, I'd be less inclined to talk smack. Particularly is the mess was f*cking with the country I allegedly loved.

But that's clearly just me.

Wargames Mark

Mon, 11/16/2009 - 10:04pm

Tyrtaios - I would say that time was on their side from the very moment the U.S. decided to embark on a nation building venture in Afghanistan. It seemed to take them a while to figure out how to go about this protracted war, but they appear to have figured it out. As long as they avoid being destroyed as an organization and they can wear away at Western commitments to this effort, then they may win in the end - unless the Afghan and Pakistani governments perform some sort of miracle. I think that U.S. leadership needs to look at this situation and ask themselves, "What parts of this mess really matter to us as a nation? What do we really need to achieve? What do we not need to achieve? How do we make the desired endstate happen in a way that is doable given political realities not only over there, but back at home as well?"

oldpapjoe (not verified)

Mon, 11/16/2009 - 12:38pm

Watching BHO "take his time" on deciding what he wants done in Afghanistan is all well fine and good. I would like to remind BHO supporters such as Galloway, that waiting can be wise, but history suggests it can also a symptom of a very, very great weakness and that is indecisiveness. In a tactical setting, it is the old "taking councel of ones fears". Only "time" will tell if BHO waiting is wisdom or indecisevness. Besides, he had at least from March when he paraded his Afghan Team in DC to make up his mind.

Time is often on the insurgents' side especially when an external force is conducting counterinsurgency. There is an old adage (can't recall who said it) but it is along the lines of "the counterinsurgent has to win, the insurgent has to just not lose." Which is why these types of missions are like playing monopoly on a 3 dimensional chess board using rugby rules.

Tyrtaios (not verified)

Sat, 11/14/2009 - 12:44pm

Well, Wargames Mark, at this late date, time would certainly appear to be on the Taliban's side, unlike us, they have no where else to go. Perhaps it would be better to build from the bottom-up in selected regional areas, and marginalize Karzai - if that's possible?

I have this nagging thought in the back of my mind some are considering this a lost cause, and are looking more for of a plausible face saving exit strategy as opposed to anything else put forward last March?

Wargames Mark

Sat, 11/14/2009 - 11:48am

A small point about a topic on the periphery of the article's main gist: With regard to corruption in the Afghan government, we should remember that building a stable government in Afghanistan is something that has grown on top of the original mission. Certainly, it is difficult to legitimize an illegitimate government in the eyes of an unconvinced and wary people, but is full-blown nation-building what we really want to accomplish? Obviously, establishing rule of law there would help prevent the country being used as a base by al Qaida, but as the article states, at what cost? Remember that our enemies there do not need to win while our troops are around - the enemy only needs to avoid losing until our forces withdraw. Time is on their side.


Sat, 11/14/2009 - 11:24am

Well, at least Mr Obama won't be able to whinge that he 'inherited' Gen McChrystal. Blue skies! -- Dan Ford