There is a serious and growing rift between the Obama White House and the uniformed officers over Afghanistan policy, according to Rajiv Chandrasekaran and Karen DeYoung at WaPo. They have seen the review produced by Gen. Stanley McChrystal,which warns that unless more US troops are injected into Afghanistan during the next year, the counter-insurgency effort could fail. McChrystal sketched out his approach, modeled in some ways on what the military learned in Iraq, at a time when Obama had momentum on Afghanistan and he assumed that Washington was committed to a counter-insurgency effort.
In the meantime, the US public turned against the war, the Democrats in Congress started resisting sending more troops, and Hamid Karzai destroyed the legitimacy of his government by trying to steal the presidential election. Some administration advisers are apparently urging the US to get out of Afghanstan but to retain the capability of hitting dangerous persons and groups with aerial drones.
On the Sunday talk shows, Obama seemed somewhat hostile to the idea of sending more troops, and certainly before the strategic goals were spelled out.
Apparently military officers are just furious with the president for not making a decision by now one way or another. It is true that Hamlet wouldn’t last 5 minutes in Afghanistan.
I wonder if another thing that happened wasn’t the successful Pakistani military campaign against the Pakistani Taliban in the Swat Valley, which revealed to Washington that Pakistan is not after all a failed state on the verge of collapse, and that there were regional actors who could and would take on the extremists under some circumstances.
One hope that Washington repeatedly expresses is that an Afghan national army can be trained and the country turned over to it in only a few years. Ann Jones at Tomdispatch.com suggests, based on her own experience in Kabul, that the Afghan army may not actually exist, and may, in fact be a scam whereby an Afghan joins, takes the basic training pay, and then disappears. Some may even go through it two and three times. She points out that when 4,000 Marines went into Helmand Province this spring, they were accompanied by only 600 Afghan troops, and she wonders where the others are. She has a dark suspicion that no such army tens of thousands strong even exists. The US may even have trained persons who then defected to the Taliban.
The Afghan elections are not over, and may not be over until next spring. It is still not clear if a ballot recount to counter fraud will cause enough ballots to be thrown out to force incumbent Hamid Karzai into a runoff against his rival, Abdullah Abdullah. It is probably too late to plan and hold a runoff this fall, since winter snows are coming in the mountains, so things may just be unsettled until the spring.
End/ (Not Continued)