General McChrystal to quit?
Six months after it announced its strategy for Afghanistan, the Obama administration is sending mixed signals about its objectives there and how many troops are needed to achieve them.
The conflicting messages are drawing increasing ire from U.S. commanders in Afghanistan and frustrating military leaders, who're trying to figure out how to demonstrate that they're making progress in the 12-18 months that the administration has given them.
Adding to the frustration, according to officials in Kabul and Washington, are White House and Pentagon directives made over the last six weeks that Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, not submit his request for as many as 45,000 additional troops because the administration isn't ready for it.
In the last two weeks, top administration leaders have suggested that more American troops will be sent to Afghanistan, and then called that suggestion "premature." Earlier this month, Adm. Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that "time is not on our side"; on Thursday, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates urged the public "to take a deep breath."
The White House didn't respond to requests for comment. Officials willing to speak did so only on the condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak publicly.
In Kabul, some members of McChrystal's staff said they don't understand why Obama called Afghanistan a "war of necessity" but still hasn't given them the resources they need to turn things around quickly.
Three officers at the Pentagon and in Kabul told McClatchy that the McChrystal they know would resign before he'd stand behind a faltering policy that he thought would endanger his forces or the strategy.
"Yes, he'll be a good soldier, but he will only go so far," a senior official in Kabul said. "He'll hold his ground. He's not going to bend to political pressure."
This isn't smart on Barry's part. He made a case during the election that Afghanistan had to change quickly or else we'd lose the theater. And based on the increase in casualties one can safely assume we're slowly losing Afghanistan. Barry has a problem here, but it's not with the military provided he listens to his commanders on the ground. Remember that Barry virtually campaigned against President Bush on the election trail in claiming he didn't listen to the commanders fighting this war (nevermind that he was all ears for General Petraeus, and listened to his strategy for success in Iraq; he listened to the criticism from the same man on the mistakes made in Iraq). Here we see Barry not listening to General McChrystal.
We saw this in Vietnam when the Left refused to listen to the commanders on the ground as to how to win there. We did, technically, win in Vietnam. We won every engagement. It wasn't until 1995 when the Wall Street Journal held an interview with Colonel Bui Tin where the idea of a long, drawn-out conflict would demoralize the nation, and swing the momentum in their favor. (The initial quote about this is attributed to General Giap, and it's an urban legend.)
If General McChrystal has a problem with troop levels, that can be resolved in discussions between him, the Pentagon, and the president. If it's about strategy, and the troop increases seem to be key to that strategy, then General McChrystal would be justified in his resignation. Will he resign? That's a great question, and it can only be answered by the general himself. But if he resigns, it'll be a blow to the administration. To a greater extent it'll be a blow to the efforts in Afghanistan, and General McChrystal is likely considering that view.
If he's committed to success, then he won't resign out of hand unless the president signals that he won't increase the troop levels. What he has to understand (and I'm sure he does) is that Barry is trying to appeal to his fever-swamp base. He knows if he escalates this, he's going to face a serious, political backlash. But for him to abandon our soldiers there without the resources they need, it's going to cost him more than just his kook, fringe base.
It'll cost him the nation. His base can't carry his water in 2012. He needs to triangulate, and carry Independent voters. They're running from him. Republican voters that didn't think he'd be this bad have already run from him. If Barry is content on winning in 2012 he needs to give General McChrystal what he's asked for, and extend the timetables that were initially given. We can win this theater but to do so we need a president who has the resolve to do what's necessary. If he's not going to, then why be there?
We're not ones to cut and run, but if the administration isn't going to be serious about victory in Afghanistan, then the loss of life isn't acceptable.