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August 12, 2009

Afghanistan Mission Creep Watch - The 'Look at the Shiny Thing In My Hand' Version
Posted by Michael Cohen

I'm not even sure how to respond to Dave Dilegge's rant at Small Wars Journal today:

The Afghanistan affair is quite complicated; we know that, we also can study it to death and comment until the cows come home.

How about a novel approach at this particular point in time - give the Commander in Chief, the National Command Authority, State... and most importantly, the Commanding General and his staff in Afghanistan some efing breathing room to sort this out? The guys on the ground - get it?

How much is too much?

For the all the hype about the benefits of instantaneous global communications and Web 2.0 - of which we most certainly are a part - we’ve never really examined the tipping point - the place where we become part of the problem, rather than the solution.

Um, no. Actually, how about hell, no!

Or how about, "Hey Dave, how did trusting the Commander-in-Chief, the State Department and the military to sort this out in Iraq, go?" Or Vietnam?

Or how about, "do you see an irony in pushing for democracy in Afghanistan (or some version of it) while arguing against an open and vibrant debate in the United States about the war we are fighting there . . . to defeat an anti-democratic insurgent group."

Does Dave Dilegge really believe that the problem in Afghanistan is that debate at "home" is undermining the mission there? Or it could be that the mission doesn't make a ton of sense and hasn't been properly explained to the American people. Case in point - this statement by Ambassador Dick Holbrooke today about Afghanistan:

Holbrooke said that while the United States had to be “clear about what our national interests are,” ultimately, success would require taking a “Supreme Court test” — “We’ll know it when we see it.”

Gulp! Yeah, Dave, critics of the mission in Afghanistan are definitely part of the problem.


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OK, I've known Dave Dilegge from a distance for a long time. He and I jousted over his friend Kilcullen's angry review of Bacevich's angry review of "Accidental Guerillas."

But I'll defend him here. Everyone gets frustrated and angry from time to time. Dave's SWJ has been a valuable resource in limning best practices in counter-insurgency.

Despite my one brief brush with him, I've always found him to be an honorable, conscientious man who, frankly, makes no money on his site and operates it only as a scholarly, patriotic service.

I'd also suggest that he doesn't practice what he, himself, preached in his bloggish broadside: He has publicly defended the strongest critic of the COIN narrative, Gian Gentile, and continues to commission columns from him on these very issues.

In other words, Dave gets a mulligan. He's earned it.

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