Tuesday, June 22, 2010

About the General and Rolling Stone

So the national press is all agog today about comments made by Gen. Stanley McChrystal and his flunkies in Rolling Stone about how clueless the Obama White House is about Afghanistan.
Most commentators not named Rush Limbaugh agree that Obama can't let that slide, that the General should get a boot in his ass going out the door. I agree with them, primarily because he should have never let his crew get loose like that in a national publication (or any publication, for that matter).
Let me, however, put this into a little context. McChrystal has never shied from saying that he thinks the U.S. effort in Afghanistan has been mostly half-assed. He doesn't agree with Obama's timetable to start drawing down troops in 2011. He didn't get everything he wanted for the big surge Obama approved last year.
I'm going to go out on a limb and surmise that this isn't just a tactical disagreement. I'm guessing his objections are heart-felt and not at all the fumings of some strutting peacock, as military commanders are typically portrayed by lefties when they disagree with the civilians.
I would imagine that the General is thinking a bit about the young men and women who have already been maimed or killed there. If the U.S. leaves AfPak in the next few years, the region is likely to still be a corrupt Hellhole leaking heroin and Islamic fanaticism. Given that, why did we go there in the first place? To inconvenience the locals and the Taliban for a decade or so? To create even more terrorist training opportunities for the wildly-disaffected young men we have been alienating there? What will the reaction be in the Western press when Al-Jazeera runs video of bin Laden walking freely down some street in Kandahar?
I want to reiterate that McChrystal should be fired. I also agree with Obama's desire to start pulling out next year. But I know and grudgingly accept what most of my fellow Americans don't: We blew it sky high there in 2001-02 when we started moving out assets to prepare that war crime called the Iraq War. We have wasted billions of dollars and ruined millions of lives, both there and at home, because a handful of paranoid pseudo-intellectuals thought they could remake the Middle East in Dick Cheney's despicable image.
I think Obama is making the least bad decisions he can in Afghanistan, but I understand why McChrystal is pissed off and I don't begrudge him collecting speaking fees from all of the corporatists who will surely line up to hear him malign Obama. I don't know if that is his plan, but God bless him if it is. He deserves the money much more than Newt Gingrich or Sarah Palin, as they have spent their lives talking and he has spent his life doing.

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