This summer the U.S. government has faced a deteriorating crisis in Afghanistan. Such crises tend to force policymakers to face up to the facile assumptions they have previously made. Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s report to his civilian masters on the faltering counterinsurgency campaign in Afghanistan has caused President Barack Obama and his advisers to face up to their basic assumptions about U.S. objectives and strategies for perhaps the first time. Obama and his team seem very likely to conclude from this long overdue examination of first principles that it will be impractical for the U.S. to successfully implement a counterinsurgency campaign plan in Afghanistan. McChrystal’s assessment has unwittingly tossed the U.S. military’s counterinsurgency field manual into the shredder. McChrystal’s report is brutally honest about the troubles in Afghanistan.
Click on title above for complete article, below for Phi Beta Iota comment and links to three “fix” pieces.
What Next In Afghanistan? The Five People Obama Is Asking
Click on photo for full story. Grades and comments are those of Phi Beta Iota.
Vice President Joe Biden. C+. Scale back, Drones and Special Forces on high-value targets.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. F. Delusional on Taliban as lovers of Al Qaeda, listening to slick Australian on spending our way into hearts and minds.
National Security Adviser James Jones. D. Good man that does not know what he does not know, drops from a C to a D because his job is outreach and ensuring the President hears from a diversity of views, that is not happening.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen. C+. A strategic savant trapped between a rock and a hard-place, his integrity fights his loyalty every day. A for the rest of the world, D for not calling AF for what it is: a blunder of epic proportions.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates. B-. Found his integrity in pushing the troop demand into the public eye after first being a loyalist. Learned from Viet-Nam that Ho was a nationalist after all, Taliban is more of the same. A lame duck while Obama decides between Chuck Hagel and John Hamre.
Administration Over-All: D. Empire as Usual, Bureaucracy as Usual, Sacrificing our Troops to Buy Time, Not Listening to Serious Experts, Not Able to Think a Strategic Thought, Not Able to Plan, Program, and Execute a Whole of Government Anything.
Sometimes reality and fantasy collide in extraordinary ways. Below are four headlines and teaser editorial comments, click on the headlines to read the details, but the details do not really matter, here is the lunacy all together in one pot.
I happen to feel that Hillary Clinton is one of the best female leaders in America, so I bought the book hoping for the best. I was disappointed. The book achieves what strike me as its rather low objectives: showcase the earnest persistent attractive self–tell the story as blandly as possible while avoiding any of the really hard issues, like why Bill had to look for satisfaction elsewhere.Of note, from a national security point of view, was the complete lack of reference to intelligence as in CIA, terrorism, analysis, or anything resembling attention to the facts. As an intelligence professional, if Hillary were to be elected President, I would worry about her appointing her hair dresser as Director of Central Intelligence. [Henceforth, I will evaluate every Washington biography for its attention to intelligence–looking back over several hundred such biographies I was struck by how few–George Shultz being the exception–actually discuss national intelligence and its role–or failure–within the national decision making process.]
Over-all, this book is a fast read and if you like Hillary, you will love the book, if you hate her sight unseen you will not like the book. What disappointed me most was that it is not the kind of analytical “what went wrong, what did I learn, what would I do if I were president” read that I was hoping for. Although she lightly dissects the failure of her health care reform initiative and the terribly unjust impeachment of Bill Clinton, I walk away from this booking thinking “great personality, but no architecture for the future.”