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November 12, 2009

Afghanistan Mission Creep Watch - The Chutzpah Version
Posted by Michael Cohen

Apparently a few folks in the armed forces are miffed that Karl Eikenberry - our Ambassador in Afghanistan who deals with President Karzai on a regular basis - hasn't jumped on the COIN bandwagon:

The public disclosure of his views has heightened existing tensions between senior military officers and General Eikenberry, who left the military in April to become Mr. Obama’s emissary. Several military officials complained bitterly that his latest cables were part of a skein of pessimistic and defeatist memos the ambassador has sent since taking over in Kabul.

Hmm, I wonder what sort of pessimism these military officials are talking about - do you think it might sound something like this:

Some GIRoA officials have given preferential treatment to individuals, tribes and groups or worse, abused their power at the expense of the people . . . the Afghan government has been unable to provide sufficient security, justice and basic services to the people.  These problems contribute to the Afghan government's inability to gain the support of the Afghan population.

The weakness of state institutions, malign actions of power-brokers, widespread corruption and abuse of power by various officials, and ISAF's own errors, have given Afghans little reason to support their government.

As you might have guessed I am quoting from General McChrystal's own strategic review, which cataloged the many problems with the Afghan government and its limitations in supporting a counter-insurgency operation. There is something deeply strange here in military officers complaining about Eikenberry's reporting. As I have said ad nauseum on this blog, according to counter-insurgency doctrine, host country support is utterly essential. Without it, the chances of success are limited. But instead of listening to our Ambassador when he says host country support will in fact not be forthcoming military officers deride it as defeatist. Indeed, as near I can tell they have done precious little to integrate it into their military plans. It's simply amazing that McChrystal would argue in his review that "success demands a comprehensive counterinsurgency (COIN) campaign" at the same time that Ambassador Eikenberry is sending repeated cables saying that the US can't rely on President Karzai to support that mission.

You know it's almost as if some military officers had decided ahead of time that counter-insurgency was the best tactical approach, facts on the ground be damned . . .

But this isn't even the best part: kudos to the Times for uncovering this little tidbit of gossip.

A few days after General Eikenberry sent his cable to the State Department, top military and civilian officials gathered for a regularly scheduled meeting at the embassy, where General McChrystal pointedly addressed many of the issues in the Eikenberry memo.General McChrystal did not refer to the cable directly, but specifically challenged General Eikenberry’s conclusions, according to one official familiar with the meeting. General McChrystal, he said, said that no alternatives had been offered besides “the helicopter on the roof of the embassy,” a reference to the hasty American withdrawal from Saigon in 1975.

It might be helpful in this situation if General McChrystal thought back on how the US got to that inglorious point.


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As long as the majority of the American population feel no pain. They can do and say anything they want. They fixed the mistakes from Vietnam. They learned their lesson. No involuntary draft and we can do whatever we want. What scares me is how the democrats aren't going after Bush at all. They don't care about the signing statements...don't care about the FISA violations. The democrats are going to use Bush's new found powers to their advantage when they take the presidency. The only good thing about that is we are going to see the republicans dusting off their copies of the constitution for the first time in 8 years...damn hypocrites. Clinton would almost be poetic justice...She'll be a disaster of course but at least I get to laugh in all the dittoheads faces after I point out how good old Georgie boy paved the way for our first female emperor...or is that Empress?

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