Now That the McChrystal Strategy Review Has Leaked …

Monday, September 21, 2009 at 9:07 am

The Washington Post’s headline — “McChrystal: More Forces Or ‘Mission Failure’” — does what the persons who leaked Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s Afghanistan strategy review evidently wanted to do: box President Obama in to a static request for more U.S. troops and dare him to refuse his chosen commander’s recommendations. The moves to separate the strategy review, conducted for McChrystal by a group of (mostly) Beltway think tank security experts, from the request for resources and the expectation that the resource request will feature more than just that more-troops request may have been designed to keep the ends and means questions distinct, but they also had the effect of preserving Obama’s freedom of action. There’s going to be pressure on Obama to simply accede to any request for more troops, and the media will frame the request, and Obama’s decision, through that prism. So it’s worth remembering that while we’re reading about the strategy review’s details now, Obama read it weeks ago, and still told David Gregory that he refuses to add troops until he’s convinced that the strategy is correct. His advisers surely figured that it would only be a matter of time before the document leaked.

For more on the strategy/resource question within the administration, The Post’s analysis is really amazing, and contains a wealth of detail. It is not clear that the Obama administration will abandon a counterinsurgency campaign, but it is clear that new strategic facts have caused the administration to question whether it’s over-committing itself to Afghan governance:

The principal game-changer, in the view of White House officials, was Afghanistan’s presidential election last month, which was compromised by fraud, much of it in support of President Hamid Karzai. Although the results have not been certified, he almost certainly will remain in office, but under a cloud of illegitimacy that could complicate U.S. efforts to promote good governance.

This, it’s worth remembering, was also a game-changer for Andrew Exum of the Center for a New American Security, one of the advisers to McChrystal’s strategy review, who wondered if historians will remember the election as the moment when “we should have cut the cord on the Afghan government.” Counterinsurgency doesn’t require nation-building. But it’s fair to ask whether the Obama administration’s expansive rhetorical commitments to Afghanistan from the start — escalating most recently with Obama’s “war of necessity” line in August — preordained such a thing. If anything, the administration is in a position of trying to calibrate how much state-building, as opposed to nation-building (state-building focuses on indirect strengthening of host-nation institutions while nation-building is a set of governance and economic actions done for that host nation), is enough and how much is not enough. That’s perilously subjective.

There is also starting to be some tension between McChrystal and Obama’s people. From The Post:

“Who’s to say we need more troops?” this official said. “McChrystal is not responsible for assessing how we’re doing against al-Qaeda.”

True, and sure to be read with acrimony in Kabul. Just like this is sure to be read with acrimony in Washington:

But Obama’s deliberative pace — he has held only one meeting of his top national security advisers to discuss McChrystal’s report so far — is a source of growing consternation within the military. “Either accept the assessment or correct it, or let’s have a discussion,” one Pentagon official said. “Will you read it and tell us what you think?” Within the military, this official said, “there is a frustration. A significant frustration. A serious frustration.”

McChrystal can’t be faulted for presuming that Obama’s commitment in March to a counterinsurgency campaign for a counterterrorism goal meant he should interpret counterinsurgency as broadly as he could or pursue it as aggressively as he could. Nor can the administration be faulted for worrying that such commitments push the means into overtaking the ends they’re supposed to yield. And the public can’t be faulted for turning away from a war that exhibits such strategic drift. But the leak of the strategy review means it’s now harder for everyone to make rational decisions without worrying whether their bureaucratic adversaries are going to undermine them in the media.

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Afghan Mission Failure « The Vigilant Lens
Pingback posted September 21, 2009 @ 1:03 pm

[...] Afghan Mission Failure This is what General Stanley McChrystal’s team “leaked” to the world.  Give us more troops, or else. [...]

Comment posted September 21, 2009 @ 3:27 pm

Here we go again….another Vietnam.

Comment posted September 21, 2009 @ 3:31 pm

The first action that should be taken is the relief of McCrystal for the leaking of a classified document. This isn't the bush administration and he isn't cheney. If he is unable to protect a classified document, he should not be in the military. Next, we are not boxed into anything. This is still bush's war and we can declare victory and come home. The taliban is not going to attack the US and, if they were, our presence in Afghanistan would not deter them.

Comment posted September 21, 2009 @ 3:33 pm

“We can't leave now or it will get worse!”
History repeating! Iraq, Vietnam, Kuwait etc etc etc etc….

Our existing strategy will provoke more attacks for the next hundred years. We are fighting the surviving children of Charlie Wilsons war!

If we want real security we need a stronger border.

South American gang MS13 is getting paid 30-50k per head to sneak Al Queda into America. How great is that? (sarc) ~As reported by Brigitte Gabriel of

Comment posted September 21, 2009 @ 3:47 pm

Is it just me or have we come a long, long way since Truman fired MacArthur for insubordination?

Can someone please highlight the place in the Constitution where it empowers military officers to challenge their Commander-in-Chief's decision-making process?

Comment posted September 21, 2009 @ 4:09 pm

I am 100% Obama supporter, but I believe he needs to step up his engagement in Afghanistan immediately.

Unfortunately all the GOP obstruction of Health Care has been a huge distraction.

The GOP has also been holding up a large number of Obama's appointments, leaving critical posts unfilled.

They need to stop this so the President has all has all his resources at his disposal!

Comment posted September 21, 2009 @ 4:19 pm

How many Generals ever get promoted by saying, “We need to pull our forces out” or “No it wont work”? Ask General Shinseki what speaking truth to power will get you.

Comment posted September 21, 2009 @ 4:21 pm

Our son is a Marine serving in Helmand Province. He tells us that the Afghan forces are 'worthless'. They lay low during any action, not participating.

The whole point of the Helmand mission was to secure the region for the elections. He said in a city of thousands only a few showed up to the polls. They were sent over during the heat of the summer up to 126* for this questionable purpose.

The Afghani government is corrupt. Al Qaeda is in Pakistan now. I think this is another case of the west misunderstanding a 4th century culture. The first question they ask when troops come to a village is 'When are you leaving?' A strong central government is never been the way of Afghanistan. It is time to strike deals and get the troops out of this occupation. More troops will never do enough to turn this around.

This war is making the country and the world less secure.

Comment posted September 21, 2009 @ 4:30 pm

“The Fraud of Afghanistan” from today's dailykos.…

Comment posted September 21, 2009 @ 4:43 pm

obuma is a surrender monkey. He's just trying to figure out how to cut and run.

McChrystal on the Afghan Election and the Karzai Government | The Lie Politic
Pingback posted September 21, 2009 @ 5:56 pm

[...] Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s Afghanistan strategy review is absolutely scathing in its assessment of the Afghan government. It raises the effect of its corruption and incompetence to a strategic threat on par with the insurgency, and calls it a “crisis of popular confidence”: … that springs from the weakness of [Afghan government] institutions, the unpunished abuse of power by corrupt officials and power-brokers, a widespread sense of political disenfranchisement, and a longstanding lack of economic opportunity. ISAF errors have further compounded the problem. These factors generate recruits for the insurgent groups, elevate local conflicts and power-broker disputes to a national level, degrade the people’s security and quality-of-life, and undermine international will. … Insufficiently addressing [this threat] will result in failure. [...]

Comment posted September 21, 2009 @ 4:57 pm

Still bush's war, declare victory, come home? Taliban not going to attack US? What planet do you spend most of your time on?

Comment posted September 21, 2009 @ 5:10 pm

Winning in Afghanistan is impossible. The most that can be done is some kind of minimal control that simply stomps on the latest brush fire. But the fires pop up all over the place and there is always something to burn. Even the Russians, I would dare say far more ruthless than us, gave it up after 10 years. I've even seen some of the war mongering conservative editorialists lately saying we should get out. Besides, we will never change the ingrained thought processes of a hug majority of the population and if they want to change they need to do it themselves. From day one I was against this and believe that the best way to deal with this type problem is stealth, spying, and pinpoint strategic strikes when hot beds of terrorists are located by these means. Legally that is hardly any different than going in and occupying a foreign country. And it should be far less costly in man power and money.

Comment posted September 21, 2009 @ 5:18 pm

This is a mess, and let's face it – all you Obama haters (your memories are short): the man inherited the mess, a war out of control, going nowhere, with no agenda other than playing defense. Costly, pointless, unwinnable.

Now the choice is 1) leaving 2) mainly leaving except special forces to root out Al Qaeda cells 3) staying in some bulk for years, presumably training Afghans while some kind of democracy sets in (hopeless) or 4) putting in more troops and trying to blow the enemies away (generals' recommendations, and all too reminiscent of those coming from similar generals in the Vietnam era)

No good answers.

My choice would be #2.

Comment posted September 21, 2009 @ 5:22 pm

Says EmentGrise “obuma [sic] is a surrender monkey. He's just trying to figure out how to cut and run.”

…You mean like Reagan wisely did in Lebanon? (Thank G-d we quashed the looming threat of Grenada, though!)

We're only in Afghanistan, y'know, because Cheney / W turned down the Afghans' offer to deliver Ben Laden to a court for trial (in a mutually acceptable neutral country), and turned down Iran's offer to a) help get Al Quaeda, b) negotiate their nuclear program, and c) stop backing Hezbollah.

Of course Iran only has nukes because we insisted the Shah buy them (from us), and Ben Laden's expertise in terrorism came from the Reagan era training he got from the CIA.

I say Obama would profit from being a let's-stop-shooting-ourselves-in-the-foot-monkey.

Comment posted September 21, 2009 @ 5:49 pm

three monkeys fu*#*@$ a football

Comment posted September 21, 2009 @ 5:53 pm

Thanks to Bush and Cheney, we took our “Eye” off the ball by invading Iraq. Had we spent the resources in Afghanistan instead of Iraq, things may be might be better.

This is what 8 years of Conservative foreign policy gets us, 2 quagmires.

The Taliban have by all accounts reconstituted in the mountains of Pakistan, Bush and Co failed BIG TIME, Obama inherited a mess, one he willfully applied for, but an inherited mess none the less.

We went to Afghanistan to root out the Taliban and capture or kill Bin Laden, Bin Laden is alive and well and the Taliban are pushing back with force.

Save it Obama haters, your bafoon GW made this mess, let the adults attempt to clean it up.

US in Afghanistan failure warning | Pakish News International
Pingback posted September 21, 2009 @ 7:10 pm

[...] Spencer Ackerman, at the Washington Independent, points out that the president’s recent statements have been made with full knowledge of Gen Mc… [...]

Comment posted September 21, 2009 @ 6:16 pm

Imagine the trillion dollars spent on killing people in Iraq and Afghanistan were it to be spent on developing green energy sources in the US instead. We wouldn't need the oil there and there wouldn't be the inflow of money supporting the Taliban from the dried up oil revenues…. Gosh another win win by the wayside in order to support the industrial military complex.

Comment posted September 21, 2009 @ 6:27 pm

Obviously not Faux news world. We have discovered recently that the fiscal crisis is the fault of Obama, as well as the war and all the expenses associated with it. Know the difference between the Taliban and Al-Qaeda?

Anna Langella
Comment posted September 22, 2009 @ 3:40 pm

You can be sure this delay will put more of our troops in harms way! UGH.

Comment posted September 22, 2009 @ 7:46 pm

The lord is coming soon … The World will not get any better lets not be blinded by the devils tatics … WEL HAVE TO PRaY! Seek the lord while he may be found!

Comment posted October 4, 2009 @ 5:39 pm

Is anything ever Obama's fault? EVER?
This man lies on national tv over and over and over and over but none you idiots seem to care. We all know what President Obama faced when he took office but it is obvious that it doesn't bother any of you Obama Cult Members that he is continuing down the same road as good ole George. How many people are in cabinet positions or in any position of the Obama Admin are from the Bush Administration?

It is obvious that President Obama is in over his head. And like President Bush said when leaving office, Being on the outside of the White House door is alot different than being inside the White House door. On the outside you can say and do what you want but when you go inside your decisions affects the lives of millions of people.

None of you see anything wrong with anything this man has done? Nothing? Can someone give me one promise he made during his campaign that he has actually kept. Just One.

Giving 565 million dollars to Al Gore to make a car in another country that most Americans will not even be able to afford doesn't bother you? I'm sure the people of Chicago could have put that money to better use. But they won't get the chance because its going to create jobs in another country to create a product American tax payers can't afford and it was our money that was just given away.

Giving 2.5 million dollars to charities in Lybia doesn't bother you? Does Chicago have any charities that could use 2.5 million dollars?

Spending over 2 million dollars just in fuel to fly to Denmark to vie for the Olympics while the people in the very city that he is representing is having its children murdered in broad daylight doesn't bother you? How much do you think that 2.5 million dollars would have been done for the people of Chicago? How many homes could have been saved, how many new teachers could have been hired, how many after school programs could have been funded, how many doctor's visists would it have covered? None of this bothers you? Just imagine what could have been done with the millions spent on other expenes of this trip besides the fuel.

Comment posted October 4, 2009 @ 5:47 pm

You need to check your facts before you open your big mouth. The document was leaked from inside Washington.
Its not cornering Obama, its just proof that this man can go on vacation while the man HE put in charge has requested more troops and instead of doing his job he goes on vacation.

Why didn't “God” Obama go to Afghanistan instead of Denmark? Why did General McCrystal have to fly to Denmark and only get 25 minutes of “God” Obama's time when he donated unknown amount of minutes and hours on his fucking Olympic Bid. He can make a plan to vie for the Olympics but he can't make a plan to get our fucking troops out of hell.

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BREAKING: McChrystal relieved of command **UPDATED** : The Reid Report
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