The top general in Afghanistan, Stanley A. McChrystal, has privately requested
several thousand additional troops, warning that failure to comply
within twelve months could lead to failure. Political considerations
aside, is McChrystal right? As the road in Afghanistan forks between
massive and long-term troop involvement or outright withdrawal,
commentators tackle big questions about America's long-term role.
- 21st Century Imperialism Andrew Sullivan warned against mission creep far beyond counterinsurgency. "We have to weigh the chances of serious terror groups
re-grouping and operating even more freely throughout Afghanistan and
Pakistan against the risks of more money, more troops, more casualties
and more blowback. And let's not fool ourselves: neither of these is a
good option," he wrote. "But if McChrystal is right, he is strategizing Afghanistan as a
semi-permanent protectorate for the US. This is empire in the 21st
century sense: occupying failed states indefinitely to prevent even
more chaos spinning out of them. And it has the embedded logic of all
empires: if it doesn't keep expanding, it will collapse. The logic of
McChrystal is that the US should be occupying Pakistan as well. And
Somalia. And anywhere al Qaeda make seek refuge."
Surge Worked in Iraq, Why Not Afghanistan? Peter Feaver compared McChrystal's report to discussions over the Iraq War surge. "This document will remind anyone who worked on the issue of the
internal debate over the surge strategy in Iraq circa Fall 2006. While
the Bush administration Iraq Strategy Review did not produce a 66-page
report that leaked, we covered much this same terrain and wrestled with
many of the same thorny trade-offs and uncertain bets," he wrote. "If
successful, the McChrystal assessment claims that this will buy time to
allow for a safer eventual shift back to a train and transition
strategy. It will not win the war in the short-run, but it will shift
the trajectory of the war and allow for the possibility that our side
can prevail in the long run."
- Clear Cost-Benefit Michael Crowley insisted Obama should accept McChrystal's surge-or-withdraw mandate. "During the campaign
he spoke often--albeit usually in the context of Iraq--about heeding
the advice of his commanders on the ground. Now he's in a position
where he may not want to accept it. As I wrote in my last print piece,
this line of thinking helped George W. Bush screw up Iraq. That said,
what the generals want is not the only consideration here. Their job is
to tell Obama how the war can be won. Obama's job is to decide whether,
in the context of America's myriad priorities at home and abroad, it's
worth the projected cost."
- Occupation Could Take Decades Ed Morrissey argued
Obama must dig in, prepared for many years of occupation, or leave now.
"If we hope to prevail, we will need a political commitment for more
resources over a much longer period of time than most politicians have
been willing to report. Michael Yon has insisted that means decades
of Western involvement, to make sure that an Afghanistan we eventually
leave will not slide back into the Afghanistan of the post-Soviet
period, where radical Islam prevails and terrorist networks build
central offices for attacks on the world. Either we commit to this
fight, or we should pull out altogether."
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