BONZER WOLF™

The Thin Blue Line #BlueLivesMatter

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This War Can't be Won
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bonzerwolf
The war in Afghanistan began rightly, legitimately. On 9/11/2001 the United States had been attacked, essentially, from Afghanistan, harbor-er of terrorists. We invaded and toppled the Taliban with dispatch and courage.

But Washington soon took its eye off the ball, turning its focus and fervor to invading Iraq. Over the years, the problems in Afghanistan have mounted.  Last August, Gen. McChrystal produced, and someone leaked, a 66-page report warning of "mission failure." More troops and new strategy were needed. The strategy, counterinsurgency, was adopted.

The mission on the ground was expanded—counterinsurgency, also known as COIN, is nation building, and nation building is time- and troop-intensive—but the timeline for success was truncated.   Only America, and God bless it, would try to take the hell out of war. But the new strategy involved lawyering up, requiring troops to receive permission before they hit targets. Some now-famous cases make clear this has endangered soldiers and damaged morale.

Obama blasted Iraq but called Afghanistan the "good war".  The president seems to have thought government experts had answers, or rather reliable and comprehensive information that could be weighed and fully understood. But in Washington, agency analysts and experts don't have answers, really. They have product. They have factoids. They have free-floating data. They have dots in a pointillist picture, but they're not artists, they're dot-makers.

This war in Afghanistan can't be won.  There are many reasons for this. America's sons and daughters have come back from repeat tours full of doubts as to the possibility of victory.  The U.S. military is overstretched in every way, including emotionally and psychologically. The biggest takeaway from a week at U.S. Army War College in 2008 was the exhaustion of the officers. They are tired from repeat deployments, and their families are stretched to the limit, with children reaching 12 and 13 without a father at home.

One of Gen. McChrystal's aides, in the Rolling Stone interview, said that if Americans "started paying attention to this war, it would become even less popular."  

Gen. Stanley McChrystal's greatest contribution to the war in Afghanistan may turn out to be forcing everyone to focus on on it, so we can end it. 

Via Peggy Noonan Wall Steet Journal Declarations June 25, 2010


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