Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Afghan Re-examination

The news blowup from US General McChrystal's disrespectful remarks (more from his staff than from him, really) about our civilian leadership gave President Obama a good opportunity to make some mid-surge course corrections.

McChrystal had already been warned about opening his mouth to the press, during the 2009 review which led to the decision to make the surge. The comments quoted in the Rolling Stone article were punishable under the military code. I thought, though, that Obama could've taken the opportunity to "show empathy" and forgive (though most people didn't).

I think the reason why he didn't is that the battle hasn't really been going well enough, thus far. The President has brought David Petraeus, the professor of counterinsurgency strategy, back in to replace McChrystal, the practitioner. He will have a chance to revise strategy, rules of engagement, and even the grand plan.

As I suggested before, my recommendation is that the US plan an offensive for the fall of 2011, just when the Taliban is going to think it's safe to come out of hiding with the Americans starting to leave. The objective of this surge, and of that offensive, would be to deal them a harsh blow, to weaken them for the next phase, when they would be permitted to live in peace in Afghanistan, and thus hopefully to prevent their dominating the country when we have substantially completed our departure (which must be by November, 2012).

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