America – distracted as we’ve been by teabaggers, congenital naysayers, and gulf shrimp drizzled with a rich BP aioli – hasn’t paid much attention to the festering holes of Afghanistan and Iraq lately. It took a general with all the PR acumen of Tony Hayward to get us to pay attention…this week anyway.
The Messiah™ had no viable alternative but to go all Harry S Truman on McChrystal’s ass. The whole affair was dressed up in pretty language guaranteeing that McGeneral’s shove off the ledge signalled no change in strategy. But more’s the worse, because it’s not like the current strategy worked when Bush tried it nor when Obama doubled down on it.
Short and Sweet…NOT!
The previous Carbuncle-in-Chief guaranteed two things: the wars would be short and there would be no nation-building. The amateur videographer would be quickly vanquished and the Wolfowitzian view of a democratic utopia would rise from the shattered lands as if by Godly, or Rumsfeldy, decree.
How’s that workin’ out for ya there neocons?
Repeatedly surging, partially withdrawing, and shocking an awing for 10 years hasn’t yielded much. Sure, there’s the “success” in Iraq – if by success you mean that jihadists still wander the streets with C4 stuck up their asses and itchy fingers on the triggers. Or that Osama has given up his position as anchor of the 6 o’clock Crackpot News (but his video production values seem to be improving). Or the purple-fingered set still can’t form a government that can even agree on a shape for the parliamentary chambers.
Despite all the blood and treasure poured into those god-awful lands, we’re still trying the same things we’ve been trying for years. And sadly, we still don’t have a definition for what constitutes victory nor a practical way to hold the unholdable at bay while we sneak out in the middle of the night.
Counter-insurgency warfare is the strategery du jour, but it has some drawbacks. It doesn’t work on a predictable timeline and, more often than not, results in something other than a traditional “victory”. (See the many uneasy, lengthy standoffs between governments and insurgents in dozens of nations around the planet). Countering insurgents costs a shocking amount and the nation has to be in for a long and indefinite haul.
That’s a pretty tough sell for a country that’s already been on the road for 10 years.
Admiring the Quagmire
Despite all the assurances the US wouldn’t end up in an unwinnable quagmire, that’s exactly where we find ourselves. It seems we learned the wrong lesson from our last insurgent war in Vietnam.
Yes, starting wars with shock and awe scares the skivvies off the insurgents and give the invading army an advantage. However, the more important lesson is to think before hurling the Weapons of Massive Awesomeness against people who just take to the caves and wait for us to blow our awesome load before coming back out to fight.
If you don’t have a plan – or in the case of Mr. Bring it On and Hugs McHopey, a clue – don’t start the war. And if you do find it necessary to start it, figure out how you’re going to finish it.
If you can’t, you’re going to have noting but shockingly awful awfulness.
- Obama: Hostage To Petraeus (andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com)
- Mardell’s America (bbc.co.uk)
- How We Know What McChrystal Really Thinks (andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com)
- Does Petraeus Mean a Return to All-Out War? (wired.com)
- Stanley McChrystal: The gung-ho general and the rock magazine | Alexander Chancellor (guardian.co.uk)
- One more casualty of Afghan war (timesunion.com)
- Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), Only Lawmaker To Object To Obama Firing McChrystal (alan.com)
- Afghanistan Very Different than Iraq for Petraeus (patspapers.com)
- Obama on Petraeus: A tale of two videos (hotair.com)