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  • Why Victory in Afghanistan is Crucial

    Today’s firing of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, our top commander in Afghanistan, dealt only with a symptom of the disease eating away at our Afghan strategy, and at the risk of perhaps worsening the condition. The general’s disdain for his civilian leaders, expressed to a magazine and which led to his dismissal, stems from systemic disarray at the heart of President Obama’s war policy. This shambles cannot be blamed on a wayward general; the buck stops firmly where it should, at the Oval Office.

    Naming the very able Gen. David Petraeus to replace Gen. McChrystal may help heal this sad state of affairs, and we hope it does.  But the drama behind Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s firing masks a far greater and troubling issue: Is the Obama administration fully committed to victory in Afghanistan? Whatever one may say about Gen. McChrystal’s behavior, the larger and more important question is why President Obama tolerates fundamental disagreements among his team on how and even whether to win the war in Afghanistan.

    Clearly our Ambassador in Kabul, Karl Eikenberry, is not fully on board with Gen. McChrystal’s counterinsurgency strategy. And neither is Vice President Joe Biden, who also seems to be at odds with Obama’s own Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, on the meaning of the Afghanistan withdrawal timeline.

    All of this spells chaos in the President’s strategy. Tragically, President Obama split the difference between his warring advisers when he chose a “mini” surge of troops, and one conditioned on a timeline for withdrawal. The timeline raised suspicions about the depth of the President’s commitment to victory. The backbiting among his advisers sowed confusion and contradictory strategies that are undermining the effectiveness of the war effort.

    This confusion is the President’s fault—not General McChrystal’s—and if the strategy in Afghanistan fails as a result, the responsibility will be Obama’s, not the general’s.

    And let’s make something completely clear: the stakes are high. A defeat such as this would be a tremendous tragedy for our nation. The sacrifice of our men and women in uniform have would have been in vain. And the financial and geopolitical investments this nation made in establishing a stable regime capable of keeping out terrorists would be deemed a complete waste.

    What is even worse, defeat will inevitably return to power a Taliban regime that will make Afghanistan a safe haven for terrorists, just as it was prior to the attacks of September 11. We neglected Afghanistan in the 1990s and paid dearly for it in lives in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania. Winning in Afghanistan is directly related to preventing another “9/11,” and it truly is the central front in the war on terrorists.

    Winning in Afghanistan means ensuring a stable nation that can govern and defend itself, and where the Taliban and other terrorists cannot thrive, continuing to pose a threat to the United States.  To achieve victory — a word the President has admitted being averse to — he needs to get away from inflexible artificial timelines that are divorced from conditions on the ground.

    The sad thing is that we have been here before, and the outcome was just as tragic and dangerous then as it could be today. There was war weariness at the end of the Vietnam War. Forgetting why were fighting there in the first place, we deluded ourselves into thinking that a loss in Vietnam could be tolerated. The false peace agreement between the United States and North Vietnam dissolved as soon as it became clear that the U.S. government and Congress would not even lift a finger to aid its old ally in South Vietnam.

    This subsequent loss was not merely a humiliation for the nation — one that resulted in the state of U.S. armed forces falling to a nadir that is embarrassing to this day.  It also unleashed genocide in Cambodia and untold suffering in Vietnam.

    Not only that, it signaled America’s weakness and lack of resolve.  Taking its measure of the new paper American tiger, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, and other communist movements in South America spun themselves up to challenge what they believed to be a declining power.

    We don’t need Afghanistan to become our next Vietnam.  History never repeats itself exactly, and, yes, there are differences both in circumstances and even outcomes.  But if we fail in Afghanistan, this nation will pay a terrible price.  We will not only see the threat of terrorism to our shores grow, but could even see the regime in nuclear-armed Pakistan fall either into terrorist hands or a military in league with them.

    And that is a danger far, far greater than what we now face on the battlefields of Afghanistan.

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    21 Responses to Why Victory in Afghanistan is Crucial

    1. Barbara Frances Delo says:

      I am worried about the fact that our military leaders are concerned enough to put their jobs on the line because ot the path our President has directed them to follow. We are not there, we don't know the dynamics of the situation, and we are not privy to the intelligence that they have.

      We live increasingly in a dangerous world. A good relationship between our Comander-in-Chief and our military is crucial to the safety of our nation.

    2. Tim Barnes says:


    3. Vernon Eason, Fresno says:

      The only reason Gen. Stanley McChrystal apologized was his loyalty to the troops. His statements are truth and reality in time will confirm.

    4. West Texan says:

      Barbra was right when she said, "We are not there, we don’t know the dynamics of the situation … ". Even-though Obama receives regular intelligence updates, he lacks the experience to know what to do with such information. His default is always campaign politics. Notice how well he's handled the Deep Horizon scenario. This president needs a basic course in military affairs and leadership 101.

    5. Pingback: Why Victory in Afghanistan is Crucial | The Foundry: Conservative Policy News. | Cant You See

    6. Ron, California says:

      WOW! I am very surprised to be reading an article of this substance and misrepresentation from The Heritage Foundation.

      The author has it wrong, since the general resigned. He was not "fired" nor did Obama "dismiss" him.

      Folks, read the article that started this all (as long as you don't pay for it) and see for yourself that this is all a mischaracterization of General McChrystals' comments, if in fact there ever were any.

      The real story here is Obama's "Thin Skin" (as coined by a national radio personality) when it comes to matters of presidential responsibility. Just like a spoiled brat who gets angry when he doesn't get his way, Obama lashes out (like he did with BP when he screwed up the response in the Gulf) and tries to focus the blame away from himself.

      This is not leadership, but childish and immature finger pointing that endangers our country and it's citizens.

    7. Mike - Texas says:

      All these comments about the president and what the General said show that few have actually read the interview, but project their anger through the assumed strong criticism and "truth to power" from the insubordinate officer. He did not criticize the President. He did not say anything of value, he just mocked, and showed contempt for the civilian leadership of the country. In times of war, this is reason for court martial

      Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ)


      Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Transportation, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Territory, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct

    8. Blain, Colorado says:

      I know there is a reason for chain of command, one is to mimize chaos. But when the choas originates in the oval office, it frustrates waring generals and true commanders that have earned their place in command by accomplishments.

      We have a president that has not a clue, has not had a real job before he got into office, and tows the liberal line when it comes to war strategery. This was a great article on why the libs don't need to be running the country, much less a war.

    9. David Howard Benner, says:

      I have one son in Afghanistan, a former Marine, now Army. I have one son recently returned from Iraq, a Marine. I have a daughter finishing her tour in military soon: she is a Marine. I have another son recently enlisted into the Marines. In a few years I may have another son interested in the Marines. I would hope that only the best leadership from both commissioned officers and elected Americans ploiticians are seeing that their service is not in vane and their lives are not triffled with. As a retired firefighter/paramedic, who also served in the military and as a civilian overseas, I know what duty, honor and sacrifice is about. I have lived it for over 57 years! I expect our military generals and our elected politicians to also know and practice duty, honor and sacrifice but not over the bodies of my children. Do your duty as Americans and not politicians!

    10. Barbara, Dallas, Tex says:

      Has anyone noticed the irony of the new General's last name? Petraeus – Pe trae us (sounds like betray us)?????

    11. Edite Lynch Canada says:

      Ron, from California, has expressed a valid representation of what occurred when President Obama accepted Gen. Stanley McChrystal's proffered resignation, which a man with a much thicker skin might not have accepted, notwithstanding the Code of Conduct in the chain of command. One is not as disturbed by what was apparently said by "aides" who are not named, but the reasons why these issues were being raised. It read like pure ,unadulterated frustration having to deal with an administration that does not know where it is going or how, in this war in Afghanistan. We have heard too many promises from the POTUS during his time of campaigning but which have been faulted numerous times to the chagrin of Americans who trusted him.The current President acts like he is playing snakes and ladders and hopes he wins. Having disgraced himself with his handling of the Gulf oil spill and many other important issues on the table, he saw an easy way to show just how tough he could be by sacrificing an irreplacable, career General who has earned his stars and stripes with his body and boots on the ground, unlike Obama.From observing what has happened during this issue, one feels that the President is indeed intimidated by the military and here was his opportunity to play Commander-in-Chief.What should be focused on is why there is such deep disrespect for this President and his civilian administration. Why? Why? Why? A bigger man, a worthy man could have shown he knows the strengths of his appointed General in Afghanistan and given him a dressing down and a pass. Instead, another good Gen.Pretraeus has been moved in from Iraq at a time when he has shown an indication of health problems which for good reason are being downplayed. If Gen Petraeus should fall ill and be disabled from working, exactly what is Plan B or does President Obama even think that far ahead? Oh, yes, he does. He plans to withdraw troops in July of 2011. Some Commander-in-Chief.

    12. Janice, Washington D says:

      Think Ron in CA is overreacting to one word. It's still not clear that McChrystal actually submitted his letter of resignation (see e.g.,
      http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/37866754/ns/us_news-m… but that's beside the point. He was let go by his boss however you want to say it. The New York Times says Obama made the decision to let him go by the time he got up that morning, despite Sec Gates request to be heard (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/24/us/politics/24decide.html?src=me). McChrystal didn't care to clarify whether he resigned or was fired when he was asked on camera if he had actually handed in his letter of resignation–he responded, "are you kidding?" What Dr. Holmes' piece does is lay out Obama's culpability in this whole unfortunate scenario, by creating a "chaotic strategy" and confusion, and what that could mean if we don't "win" our objectives in Afghanistan. It's so much more serious than Obama just having thin skin.

    13. Gene Las Vegas says:

      He wasn't fired!! HE RESIGNED!!

    14. Tim Barnes says:

      I am Hyper-Conservative and “support our Military”. BUT this is a Mess in Afganistan. The country is a compilation of Thieves, and inbred Muslims and there is no way any version of victory can be had apart from a Cristian revival nationwide. I have discussed this with men who have served there and they agree.

    15. Tim Barnes says:

      Have we been attacked in the USA by any Afganies? Is Afganistan the ONLY place terrorist can meet……. what does it have the best deals on Terrorist vacations or what. I here Sudan is offering beter deals with ocean views…where you could ride a freighter right onto the USA shore. I am glad my son is not deployed on this hopeless mission. The troops would be defending us against terror better if they were on the Mexican border.

      Don’t get me wrong, after 911 we should have attacked the terror groups in Afganistan set up a new government and then left.

    16. Pingback: Inside the Dome: June 24th, 2010 «

    17. Chris in OC says:

      Your definition of "victory" is the creation of an Afghan nation that has never existed and one that no foreign military can be expected to create.

      Do you really honor US soldiers by sending more to die for Karzai?

    18. Pingback: Why Victory in Afghanistan is Crucial - Whitley County Patriots

    19. neel123 says:

      The key to American victory in Afghanistan lies in Pakistan. Even a kid knows that the US will never see victory in Afghanistan, as long as the enemies continue to get the support of the Pakistani Army and the ISI and their hideouts in Pakistan remain intact.

      It is inconceivable that the American strategists do not know this simple fact.

      The issue here is, the Americans are groping in the dark in their search for an effective policy to deal with the Pakistani Army, their ally of a long time……looks like a clear case of blackmail, that the Americans have no answer to … !

    20. Will, PA says:

      To Tim Barnes, Hyper-conservative, and speller extrodinaire:

      We can just do what most Heritage Foundation and AEI gurus suggest,

      the Ann Coulter/Borat Doctrine: Nuke their countries into sheets of glass and

      forcibly convert them to Christianity. We can invent a painful bodily mutilation

      ritual to increase the salabrious effect of the conversion.

    21. Andrew, WA says:

      So let me get this straight: Victory entails creating a western style government in a land that has had no legitimate system of government in decades and also ensuring that "terrorists" or the Taliban can't pose a threat to the United States? And how exactly do you propose to do that? Installing a puppet government is a sure way to alienate the people of Afghanistan and with Pakistan's support of the Taliban the only way to stop the influx of foreign fighters would be to widen the conflict and invade Pakistan. Victory under the terms that you have laid out will mean an endless and ever expanding war.

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