With these words, Adm. Mike Mullen joins the ranks of the reality-based community:
We are exploring a number of options and opportunities to get a better understanding of the scope of the threat and the best means with which to counter it. I’ve made no secret of my desire to flow more forces, U.S. forces, to Afghanistan just as soon as I can, nor have I been shy about saying that those forces will not be available unless or until the situation in Iraq permits us to do so. It’s a very complex problem, and it’s tied to the drug trade, a faltering economy and, as I’ve said many times, the porous border region with Pakistan.
There’s no easy solution, and there will be no quick fix. More troops are necessary, and some of our NATO allies have recently committed to sending more of their own, but they won’t fully ever be sufficient. We need and are pursuing a broader interagency international approach, one that includes infrastructure improvement, foreign investment and economic incentives, and I’m hopeful these efforts will begin to pay off in the near future. But we all need to be patient. As we have seen in Iraq, counterinsurgency warfare takes time, and it takes a certain level of commitment. It takes flexibility.
For years, the Bush administration has either ignored Afghanistan or pretended that America’s resources were elastic enough to accommodate two wars at once. They’re not. You can resource one war. In fact, the more you think about fighting two wars at once — especially when one of them is a war of choice — the crazier it is. “It’s what war is, you know?” said Slim Charles. “Once you in it, you in it.”
But here’s the paradox — the rub that frustrates all counterinsurgencies. More troops, at this point, might either be a marginal benefit or actually counterproductive. A former CIA official recently told me:
“There is a natural rhythm in Afghanistan,” the ex-CIA official said. “When you have a sufficient number of occupying troops then you become the issue, the resistance is generalized and then you’re in a situation no one has ever solved… If we turn [the current resistance] into a general uprising, we may not get out without humiliation. No one else has.”
I don’t know what the magic number is. We’ve managed so far to avoid sparking a general uprising. But that’s no guarantee that an Afghanistan Surge won’t. Still, recognizing that the choice is Iraq or Afghanistan is a baby step forward.
MA-Sen: 150 Conservative Bloggers Fan Out, Looking for Scandals
BOSTON -- The mysterious Election Journal blog, which first released the infamous 2008 video of two bumbling New Black Panther Party members waving nightsticks
MA-Sen: 66 to 19
BOSTON -- That, via Alex Isenstadt and Josh Kraushaar, is the number that defined the Massachusetts Senate race more than anything else. From the primary
MA-Sen: A Text Message From Scott Brown
BOSTON -- Having signed up for Scott Brown’s text message service for election day, I just got this text: Are you about to have lunch? It’s a great time to
MA-Sen: Loyal Democrats Grouse About Coakley
BOSTON -- A little while after noon, a steady crowd of Democratic voters streamed into the Cathedral High School Gymnasium to cast votes for their party’s
MA-Sen: Brown Wins
BOSTON -- At 9:20, the first rumors of Scott Brown’s victory in the Massachusetts Senate race started to work around the room. A moment later, Doug Flutie
MA-Sen Photos: ‘Paint the Town Red! Croakley’s Dead!’
Below are some photos of yesterday’s People’s Rally in Worcester, the rally that Brown held to counter-program the Obama rally in Boston. The crush of
MA-Sen: Out-of-Staters for Brown
BOSTON -- A surprising discovery at yesterday’s People’s Rally in Worcester was just how many people had traveled into the state to assist, in whatever way,
Menendez, Lautenberg to Continue BP-Lockerbie Investigation
Sens. Robert Menendez and Frank Lautenberg, both New Jersey Democrats, will continue to seek details about BP’s alleged involvement in the release last year of
Net Investors Bullish on Palin’s Prospects for Staying on Ticket
Just for fun, the Internet prediction Website Intrade has opened a contract on whether Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will be withdrawn as McCain’s running mate.
No Experience Necessary
Gov. Sarah Palin’s a middle-class hockey mom, but does that really qualify her to be vice president?