"If you know neither your enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in
- Sun Tzu
Sun Tzu maintained that proper planning secures
victory before the battle begins. Carl von Clausewitz insisted that war must
focus on the political aim. How is it, then, that we are about to put more
troops into a war we know is unwinnable and in which we have no coherent objective
for them to pursue?
President Obama announced on Feb. 17 that he will send 17,000
additional troops to Afghanistan. That's just over half of the 30,000-troop
escalation that's been discussed in recent months. Gen.
David McKiernan, top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, says he needs
another 10,000 troops on top on the 17,000 Obama has promised on top of the
32,000 already in Afghanistan. McKiernan says the pending escalation won't
be a "temporary force uplift." He thinks we need to keep 60,000 troops
in Afghanistan for the next three to four years. "We've got to put them
in the right places," he says, but he doesn't appear to know where those
As foreign policy analyst Gareth
Porter tells us, Obama was ready to support the full 30,000-troop escalation,
endorsed by Joint Chiefs chairman Adm. Mike Mullen and Central Command head
Gen. David Petraeus. A hunch must have told Obama to ask one more question,
because he called McKiernan directly and asked him how he planned to use those
additional 30,000 troops. McKiernan couldn't give him a straight answer.
Obama's hunch must have been generated in a Jan. 28 meeting with the Joint
Chiefs and Defense Secretary Robert Gates. According to NBC Pentagon correspondent
Jim Miklaszewski, Obama asked his service chiefs "What is the end game?"
in Afghanistan. His service chiefs replied, "Frankly, we don't have one."
In a related story, journalist Robert
Dreyfuss reports that Danielle Pletka, vice president of the American Enterprise
Institute (AEI), worries that Afghanistan is a "war that we may walk away from."
This remark came at a Feb. 28 meeting of AEI, the neoconservatives' home think-tank.
Tom Donnelly, AEI's top analyst and former deputy executive director of the
infamous Project for the New American Century, hammered the Obama team for
"the dumbing down of Afghanistan strategy," which is a phrase he appears to
have stolen from fellow AEI and PNAC luminary Gary
Schmitt. It's hard to tell whether Donnelly and Schmitt know that their
chambermaids Gates, Mullen, Petraeus, and McKiernan, not team Obama, are the
ones pushing for an escalation without knowing what they're escalating to or
what to do with the escalators. They don't even know which escalators to send.
According to the Washington
Post, nobody has even decided what kinds of forces to deploy.
At the AEI hobnob, Fred Kagan – who was thought to be the principle architect
of the surge until publicist Tom Ricks said the real architect was Petraeus'
pet ox, Ray Odierno – expressed concern that the Obama administration is trying
to "define success down." One wonders what Kagan means by that, since
nobody at AEI, including him, has defined what success in Afghanistan would
be at all. Schmitt slams the administration for bandying buzzwords like "realism,"
"attainable," and "end game." How dare they?
According to Dreyfuss, Kagan hopes President Obama isn't listening to any
of that slacker talk about realistic goals. Kagan hopes Obama is listening
Petraeus is the guy who bribed everybody in Mosul, which went to heck in a
handcar when he left. As general in charge of training Iraqi security forces,
Petraeus armed the Shi'ite militias before he left. As top commander in Iraq,
he bribed and armed all the Sunni militias before he left. Now Iraq is a more
dangerous place than it was before we invaded, so we can never leave or things
will go back to the way they were under Saddam Hussein, and while things were
better then, to go back to the way things were would be unacceptable after
the hard work and sacrifice we've put in to make things the way they are now.
As theater commander, Petraeus wants to repeat his "successful
experiment" in Iraq by bribing and arming Afghan militias so we can
never leave there either.
Yeah, Petraeus is just the guy we want Obama to listen to. Thanks for
the tip, Freddie.
Obama should stop listening to whoever told him to commit 17,000 additional
troops to Afghanistan. Going along halfway with a stupid idea is twice as stupid
as taking it hook, line, and sinker. And Obama should rendition whoever told
him it would be a good idea to step
up the air strikes in Pakistan. What, we weren't pushing enough locals
into the arms of the militants as it was?
Our military's senior officers are either unforgivably ignorant of the basic
tenets of their profession or they've pawned their integrity for enduring job
security through the "persistent conflict" of the "long war."
Whichever is the case, it's time for a Stalinesque purge of the Department
of Defense. Every officer from the full bird level up should be ordered to
submit a request to retire, and all DoD civilians with the word "secretary"
in their titles need to submit a letter of resignation. Don't worry that the
folks next in line aren't ready for greater responsibility. Ike was a light
colonel when World War II broke out.
Note to the commander in chief: the people who tell you this is a bad idea
are the ones you need to push out the hatch first.