Sunday, June 04, 2017
The generals don't know how to win it
So much like in Vietnam, the United States has no clue about what to do in Shitholeistan. George W. Bush made a mess and walked away from it. Barack Obama had too much on his plate to let him take it from the ineffective generals and make an intelligent political decision on what was a low priority item for him. And Donald Trump is just too damn dumb to be allowed to make any decision.
A new president confronts an old war, one that bedeviled his predecessor. He is caught between seasoned military commanders, who tell him that the road to victory is to pour in more American troops, and skeptical political advisers, who argue that a major deployment is a futile exercise that will leave him politically vulnerable.A smart man would do as Gorbachev did and just leave but we have Donald Trump in the White House. Cheeto Mussolini's record is clear, regardless of what the best solution may be, he will pick the worst.
Barack Obama in 2009. But also Donald J. Trump in 2017.
As Mr. Trump faces his most consequential decision yet as commander in chief — whether to send thousands more troops to Afghanistan, where a truck bombing on Wednesday offered a brutal reminder that the 16-year-old war is far from over — his administration is divided along familiar fault lines.
The dispute pits two generals who had formative experiences in Afghanistan — Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and the national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster — against political aides, led by the chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, who fear that sending in more troops would be a slippery slope toward nation-building.
“They are going to be faced with the same questions we were,” said David Axelrod, a former senior Obama adviser, who worried, during the 2009 debate, that the generals were boxing his boss in. “How and when does this end? Or is it an open-ended commitment of American lives and resources? What will the investment produce in the long run?”
The White House shelved the deliberations over Afghanistan three weeks ago, after an initial Pentagon proposal to deploy up to 5,000 additional American troops ran into fierce resistance from Mr. Bannon, an ardent nationalist, and other political advisers. In the West Wing, some aides have taken to calling Afghanistan “McMaster’s war.”
Undeterred, General McMaster plans to bring the debate back to the front burner this coming week, a senior administration official said. But as he does so, the Pentagon appears to be moving toward a smaller recommendation, in which America’s allies would supply half the new troops. Historically, the United States has supplied about two-thirds of the soldiers in Afghanistan.
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McMaster is supposed to be a smart guy. If he can't explain what our goal is in Vietnam and how we will be able to know when we have achieved it, then he should admit that we are not waging war there but merely killing people at random. War is supposed to achieve political ends. Traditionally, wars were fought between nation states and each side was trying to persuade the other to do something or refrain from doing something. "Making sure terrorists don't establish bases there" is not an achievable goal. We should simply say we broke it and we're not going to pay for it, and leave.
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