Sunday, June 27, 2010

Regarding the Now Infamous Article on Gen. McChrystal

Before commenting on the article of the moment from Rolling Stone, I wanted to read it in full. Now that I've done so, I have to say that it was an incredibly interesting read. Obviously, the runaway hits for our media were the unabashed comments of Gen. Stanley McChystal and his staff, but I felt that it was good to read honest assessments of the failings of the Afghan War from a number of sources, including our troops there. By the closing paragraph, I felt that my inclinations were confirmed: We need to get out of Afghanistan, period.

Whatever we could have done for the better in Afghanistan was lost when the Bush administration abandoned the capture of bin Laden for the wholly unnecessary war in Iraq. I think that what good we could have done is now lost, especially considering that we are apparently are no longer really fighting al qaeda in Afghanistan. At this point we seem only to be harming our troops who have been fighting almost aimlessly and non-stop for nearly a decade. The aforementioned Michael Hastings article, as well as an op-ed from Boston University history professor Andrew Bacevich, confirms as much. And from what I can tell, counter insurgency is nothing more than another word for perpetual war.

On a different note, and going back to the Hastings article, I could not believe the level of shade thrown at Rolling Stone by the folks in the mainstream media. You would think that Rolling Stone was some piece of shit publication to hear the criticisms. I was glad to see Frank Rich go to its defense in his op-ed today, because I think that Rolling Stone has produced several hard hitting and thorough political articles; I am especially a fan of the work of Matt Taibbi (check out all that he has written about Wall Street, particularly Goldman Sachs, to see what I am talking about).

I think that the President has made a poor decision in not looking to revise his Afghan War strategy in light of the recent events. Perhaps he and his staff need to read Hastings article without blinders this time around. McChrystal's comments against the administration people were not the most important aspects of that article, and I think that an important moment is about to be lost. This war, these wars really, must come to an end. The GOP and its supporters will tear the President down regardless of his decision, so why not end the war in Afghanistan. Bring our troops home to a hero's welcome, and focus on stopping terrorist networks as Vice President suggested ages ago. It does no one any good to exacerbate the blunders of a past administration no matter how honorable the intentions; we can no longer afford them, and our troops need no longer bear them.


Anonymous said...

I don't think that article sheds much light at all on what is really going on in Afghanistan. Sure, Hastings touches on it briefly in a few places, but the article is mostly a meandering portrait of McChrystal, his staff, the war, an Irish pub, etc.

As to modern counterinsurgency doctrine, it is a slow path to victory (or at least success) when the goal of the conflict is to transform a country into a more western-oriented, more democratic state and away from a militaristic dictatorship (Iraq) or a failed state (Afghanistan). But it is also probably the only path to potential victory or success.

hscfree said...

I think that it adds to what has been written generally about the problems with the Afghan War. It is true that McChrystal is the focus of Hastings, but I found myself more interested in those few little side comments from some of those others quoted.

For me, the trouble with both of these wars has been the lack of a definition of what we think "victory" will be. If it is to make Afghanistan into a Western democracy, then our leaders should be honest and say that we will be there indefinitely, since I doubt that there will be either "victory" or "success" during my lifetime, should i live as long as my oldest relatives.

Anonymous said...

What I know can be written on the head of a pin, but America still has a taste for war, at least from a distance. The Iraq War has been seen to be a fraud, benefiting very few and doing as much harm for US diplomatically as good to our "safety."

The Afghan War provides politicos cover to "be tough" on Terrorism even as the landscape shifts and the players change beyond recognition. July 2011 can't get here soon enough for many.

There are some questions to be asked regarding the candor of the article, but I don't doubt the general had those feelings. I do question what 3-star with a reticent nature would grant that level of disclosure. Either way, interesting.