General David Patraeus is the greatest military mind of our generation. Robert Gates is the definition of a SECDEF: Intelligent, straight shooting, and intellectually honest.
But someone should quit over what we’re doing in Afghanistan.
It confuses me. I’ve read interviews with Patraeus on his thoughts about Afghanistan. He said point blank that a surge would not have the same results as in Iraq. There’s almost no infrastructure in Afghanistan, so electricity and running water cannot be part of the bargain in protecting the people. The people don’t really want protecting; they want opium. And yet, we’re inflating the borders of that desolate country with upwards of 80,000 troops. We don’t need to protect the infrastructure that doesn’t exist or a populace that wants heroin. We have to kill terrorists. You don’t need 80,000 Soldiers and Marines to do that. You need good intelligence and a highly mobile, elite Quick Reaction Force (QRF). Combine that with drone strikes and we have all we need.
I understand that the new commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, is compared to Patraeus. He’s a go-getter with a flexible mind. But I’m wondering if this administration’s policy is taking some of that flexibility away.
When you start a war, you need to know your strategic objectives and you need to have those objectives clearly stated so that all of your commanders on the ground know what needs to be done. What are we trying to do? We will not change Afghanistan in 100 years. Iraq had everything in place to make it a semi-functioning Democracy, which is a hundred times better than a fully functioning Theocracy or Socialist Dictatorship. Afghanistan has everything in place to make it a fine replica of Luke Skywalker’s homeplanet: Tattooine. It has the tribal and violent Sandpeople who forage for weapons and abandoned equipment. It has tons of sand. It has neighborhoods that resemble Mos Eisley complete with cantinas filled with villainy and scum.
In one year we better evaluate where we are and where we want to be. Otherwise, this is a monstrous waste of money and troops.