I’m working weird hours this week, and haven’t had a lot of time to dig into the big master plan unveiled by President Obama last night.
The 30,000 additional troops, while not all that McChrystal requested, will certainly be welcome if used properly.
Not sure why it took so long to make what appears to be a wishy-washy decision. Isn’t this the sort of thing that could have been fired from the hip the day after McChrystal’s number became known?
But this whole idea of winding down the war by July 2011 seems to be something dreamed up in la-la land. If you’re just going to pick a date on a calendar and say that’s when the war’s going to be over, why not pick next week? Either fight to win or don’t fight.
Hopefully, he’s just lying to buy time with his supporters who want to declare defeat right now. If giving timelines like this can keep the natives quiet, maybe it’s the best we can hope for from Obama right now. But it’s going to give the enemy the idea that he can win by waiting us out.
Here’s what I wrote in January 2007 about the “surge” that President Bush was to announce that night. (Remember how bad things in Iraq looked in late 2006.):
I’m not 100% certain that the supposed move to deploy an additional 21,500 US troops to Iraq is the best move, but it will work if
A) They are there to play offense
B) The Iraqi Army also plays a lot of offense
If we’re sending more troops to play peacekeeper, it’s a bad move that will merely put more of our men and women in the cross-hairs.
However, if we’re sending these troops to take the fight to the insurgents and anti-government militias, 21,000 could do the trick.
In many ways and for a lot of reasons, Afghanistan is not Iraq. As bad as Iraq looked at the beginning of 2007, there was a solid new military coming into its own and an acceptable end state that could be envisioned. In Afghanistan, the new military and police forces are, to put it delicately, mostly crap. And there is really no happy ending condition that we can work toward. There is only a “slightly less shitty condition” than the current condition.
Obama spoke some about the Pakistan issue, but there’s a long way to go before that mess starts to look acceptable.
The 2007 Iraq “surge” consisted of a lot more than just adding a few troops. And I think that some of the success that was found was due to the fact that the enemy (including Sadr), hoping to see us “wind down” the campaign after the Democrats surged to power in the 2006 Congressional elections, were shocked to learn that the exact opposite was going to happen. I’ve got to think that at least some of them just gave up at that point, figuring that no matter what happened, the US was there ’til the end. They thought they had waited Bush out, and instead learned that more troops were on the way.
By talking about deadlines in Afghanistan, we just gave that away. And it should make people question how serious Obama really is about any sort of long-term success in Afghanistan. And if he’s not that serious, people should be terrified that he’s sending more troops today.
Again, a wishy-washy try-to-please-everyone compromise like this should not have taken months to come up with. This looks more like the sort of thing that a few neighbors whip up in a coffee shop one morning when planning a block-wide garage sale for the following weekend.
UPDATE: Here’s a good collection of links regarding the speech and plan at Instapundit.