Chuck Spinney sends….
The Afghan debacle is becoming a case study of how political debate in Versailles drips in a naturally self-organizing way to protect the dysfunctional status quo.
As I indicated yesterday and in September, the fundamental flaw that set the stage for the current policy making fiasco was the unexamined analytical hole in General McChrystal’s escalation strategy — namely, its dependence of the rapid expansion of the corrupt and ineffective Afghan national security forces. McChrystal did not analyze this corruption/ineffectiveness issue, but that crucial omission was ignored the hoorah accompanying the immediate leaking of report by his allies buried somewhere in the Versailles apparat.
The only alternative that surfaced during cacophony of the ensuing months, the so-called Biden plan, was equally reckless, because it also glossed over this analytical hole by advocating that we substitute a greater reliance on robotic drones for boots on the ground (drones create their own problems) and further accelerate training of the Afghan forces. With Versailles leaking like a sieve, the debate became a ridiculous fact-free exercise in macho venting.
Now, it is beginning to look like Ambassador Eikenberry (a former Army general and possibly an adult to boot) has moved to pull everyone’s fat out of the fire by blaming the chaos in the escalation debate on corruption by the Karzai government (true enough), but not surprisingly, this blame is being treated implicitly in Versailles as if were a new development that has arisen suddenly since McChrystal’s supporters leaked his fatally flawed report. In this “new” rush of developments, the attached report in the Times [UK] can be forgiven if it inadvertently helps to reinforce the collective amnesia, because it does not connect the dots to link the obvious flaws in the original McChrystal strategy and the cynical leaking of that report which together put the whole dripping circus into motion.
Mr. Obama is in a no win situation, and the time to cut his losses is past due. Hopefully, he has learned a lesson and heads will roll. But I fear the more likely outcome will be double down with some form of mushy middle course, possibly adorned with Mr. Karzai’s carcass twisting slowly in the wind, that protects everyone in Versailles, if only in the short term.
Rift in US war Cabinet as Obama throws out all options in debate over troop surge
November 13, 2009
Two leaked classified cables from the US Ambassador in Kabul voicing grave concern about sending more American troops to Afghanistan have exposed open conflict inside President Obama’s national security team over his war strategy.
The contents of the cables, passed to The Washington Post and The New York Times yesterday by three officials, also highlighted growing uncertainty inside the White House about how to prosecute the war, amid deep concerns over the corruption of Hamid Karzai’s Government.
Phi Beta Iota: In addition to Chuck Spinney’s comments and the full story online we offer the following:
1. The President has no strategic analytic model and is unable to do what Senator Sam Nunn (D-GA) knew needs to be done, always: evaluate ALL of the threats; devise a strategy for dealing with ALL of the threats; then devise a force structure for dealing with ALL of the threats (ideally in the context of a balanced budget), and then execute that budget.
2. The President is not receiving the holistic intelligence support necessary to be thoughtful about means, ways, and ends, or to be thoughtful about harmonizing all twelve core policies while striving to restore a balanced budget
3. Neither the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) nor the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) nor the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) nor the National Security Advisor have a grip on strategy, reality, or the sources and methods needed to achieve intelligence (decision-support) for the President–AND everybody else.
Phi Beta Iota knows how to fix this, but after 21 years of striving to help heal the U.S. Government, there are still no adults in power willing to listen or think independently of the White House herd and the Congressional mob. The media and think tanks are not helping–courtiers and advocates all, without a great deal of strategic intelligence.