Sen. McCain, Meet Gen. McKiernan
Sen. John McCain said one substantive thing about Afghanistan in Friday’s debate: we should take Gen. David Petraeus’ Iraq strategy and move it a few thousand miles east.
Or, as he put it, “Sen. Obama calls for more troops, but what he doesn’t understand, it’s got to be a new strategy, the same strategy that he condemned in Iraq. It’s going to have to be employed in Afghanistan.”
Alas, Gen. David McKiernan, commander of NATO troops in Afghanistan, disagrees.
Sorry to quote the last post at length, but this seems like valuable context.
McKiernan said today:
But there are countless other differences between Iraq and Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, it’s such a poor country, by any set of metrics you can imagine. A country that has very harsh geography. It’s very difficult to move around, getting back to our reliance on helicopters. It’s a country with very few natural resources, as opposed to the oil revenues that [Iraq] has. There’s very little money to be generated in terms of generated in Afghanistan. The literacy rate — you have a literate society in Iraq, you have a society that has a history of producing civil administrators, technocrats, middle class that are able to run the country in Iraq. You do not have that in Afghanistan. So there’s educational challenges, challenges of human capitol that I mentioned earlier.
So there are a lot of challenges. What I don’t think is needed — the word that I don’t use in Afghanistan is the word “surge.” There needs to be a sustained commitment of a variety of military and non-military resources, I believe. That’s my advice to winning in Afghanistan. It won’t be a short-term solution.