Obama’s Afghan Strategy Isn’t Working: Now What?
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  • Anthony

    “President Bush’s critics reveled….”

    Afghanistan is tough – withdrawal date only emboldened opposition and cautioned supporters; however, hindsight is generally 20/20

  • Mrs. Davis

    Afghanistan was a lost cause as soon as we tossed the Taliban out. We will never be able to turn it into a functioning 21st century democratic republic.

    The only effective conclusion to the overthrow of the Taliban would have been to convene a Loya Jirga outside Chaman (or the large settlement of your choice) and tell them we did not appreciate being attacked by those who came from Afghanistan and that if there were a recurrence this is what would happen to them all. Then ARCLIGHT Chaman. A lesson for both the Afghans and Pakistanis. Unfortunately the only one likely to make a lasting impression.

    But this would be uncivil. And so we will wash, rinse and repeat.

  • “The administration, writes Chandrasekaran, was paralyzed by infighting between rivals in Washington and Kabul—so paralyzed that important opportunities passed by before a response could be organized.”

    Nothing like when Bush administration let Osama slip away through Tora Bora pass. They literally had him in their sites.

  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    He has 6 more months to turn things around (not a chance in hell), then the next president will take over and Obama will go down in history has the worst president in modern history, promoting Jimmy Carter to #2 worst president (and from recent actions Jimmah knows it). The great thing about Democracy is that the people can fire the losers when they reveal themselves.

    As a serious Leader, Obama works at campaigning.
    Peggy Noonan said it best:
    “He’s busy. He’s running for president. But why? He could be president now if he wanted to be.”

  • “According to the book, these civilians were America’s “C” team. Many (not all) were young and inexperienced or old and unaccomplished; they were ineffective and poorly led.”

    As if that hasn’t been the story from the beginning. I remember when, early on, we offered ten million dollars to any Afghani who supplied information leading to Osama’s capture. My wife remarked that they would get better results if they offered a herd of goats. Seriously, what is an illiterate peasant living in a tribal society supposed to do with ten million dollars? It was beyond their imagination.

    More generally the US has failed to appreciate the influence of consanguineous marriage customs. If we had good anthropologists the way the British did when they were colonizing the world, we would have understood the fruitlessness of planning for democracy and a unified state. The same lesson applies throughout the MidEast.


  • vanderleun

    Yet again the kind spirits and interns that hover about Via Media with ah bright wings seem to have gotten the idea that, if there is an Afghan strategy in the Obama house, the Afghan “strategy” is somehow connected to the interests of the Afghan people and the United States.

    I love it when prayers are sent up for this president from this locale for any reason. It confirms my faith in the endless kindness and cupidity of scholars in search of a reason to believe.

    When posts such as this are written I picture a wonderful book lined study with a view of a long pasture where lambs frolic on the green sward all watched over by machines of loving grace. There, to the right of the keyboard, is a steaming cup of herbal Morning Thunder tea from Celestial Seasonings. In the background I can almost hear the dulcet tones of Rod Stewart and Tim Hardin crooning out:

    “If I listened long enough to you
    I’d find a way to believe that it’s all true
    Knowing that you lied straight-faced while I cried
    Still I look to find a reason to believe”

    It’s a beautiful and touching scene. Too bad it is in the crosshairs for the fire next time.

  • wanderer

    “What do you do after the British have driven you ignominiously out of Long Island and Manhattan?”

    Easy, by comparison, because all you need to do is borrow a fleet from France to bottle up Cornwallis.

    “What do you do after three years of bitter civil war that seems to be creating a stalemate?”

    Easy by comparison, because from Chancellorsville onward, contact between the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Northern Virginia hurts the Army of Northern Virginia more, whatever the tactical outcome. Just keep the contact going until the Army of Northern Virginia breaks.

    “What do you do after the Japanese have destroyed much of your fleet in the Pacific, overrun your garrison in the Philippines, and are galloping across Southeast Asia?”

    Easy by comparison, because your steel production is several multiples of Japan’s, and the Essex class will soon be coming off the slips at a high rate.

    None of these examples will help the President retrieve a war that was comprehensively bungled by his predecessor’s decision to divert resources from Afghanistan to Iraq.

    A decision Mead supported, by the way…

  • Corlyss

    What strategy?

    “Getting out” was the only thing on Obama’s mind. Even the stones in the streets know that. Afghanistan=the “good” war was just an election ploy. Like Nixon’s “I have a plan . . . “

  • Kris

    “The administration chose hope as a plan”

    To be fair, it was their platform…

  • Glen

    Chandrasekaran was pitching a significantly different version of his story on yesterday’s PBS Newshour:

    This was a surge to the exits. What the White House wanted to do was to increase troop footprint so they could find their way to the door.

    The problem was, was that that increase was really squandered by the military, by the civilian agencies of our government. We wound up sending the first waves of troops to the wrong parts of the country. Our strategy was supposed to be counterinsurgency, protecting the people, getting the troops to where the people are and protecting the civilian population from insurgents.

    Instead, we sent the majority of the first wave of troops that President Obama authorized to Helmand Province, a province with only 4 percent of Afghanistan’s population. They wind up charging into abandoned villages, very small towns, doing just the opposite of what we should have been doing in an effort to try to beat back the Taliban and stabilize the country.

    Chandrasekaran repeatedly blames institutional military and civilian bureaucracies while holding President Obama faultless.

  • Mick The Reactionary


    “The President chose his war strategy in Afghanistan”

    Professor, what’s wrong with you?

    Obama and war strategy live in different solar systems.

  • Stan Coerr

    The difference: FDR, Washington and Churchill faced existential threats against which all elements of national power were thrown. This is grand strategy. And this total war is what we are not doing in Afghanistan, and is why we will lose.

  • boqueronman

    “Nobody ever gets this stuff 100 percent right.” Yeah, OK. But Obama has demonstrated the unique capacity to get pretty much 100 percent of “this stuff” [i.e. everything] wrong.” He’s a special kind of leader.

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