It Ain’t All That

Obama’s negotiating posture with Iran is weak in multiple ways.

The Western media are dutifully plumping for President Obama’s Qom Gambit, unveiled this week in company with Gordon Brown, Nicolas Sarkozy, and Angela Merkel, who was reportedly there in spirit for the Pittsburgh revelation.

Even The Washington Times has mounted the bandwagon and proclaimed Obama’s timing to be both premeditated and, in effect, preternatural.  It is, of course, an interesting study in contrasts, to see how the left and right react differently to the proposition that “Obama knew about this all along.”  The left:  impressed by his maintenance of a poker face.  The right:  disgusted by it.  What has gotten short shrift in political commentary is the objective nature of the card Obama is playing, and what his overall situation is.  When the Qom Gambit is put in realistic context, it doesn’t look nearly as clever.  What it will not do is galvanize or unify the world in preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Continue reading “It Ain’t All That”

Under-Bus Insertion Process Begins?

Hillary Clinton may have already started the process of herding General McChrystal under the bus. She gives a peculiar and disquieting impression of where our Afghanistan policy deliberations are.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in an interview for The News Hour, has identified the assessment of U.S. Commander in Afghanistan General Stanley McChrystal as one of “several” the administration is looking at.  She names no other assessments or authors, but says the following:

…I can only tell you there are other assessments from, you know, very expert military analysts who have worked in counter insurgencies that are the exact opposite.

This, we should note in passing, is idiotic on even the most superficial grounds. Continue reading “Under-Bus Insertion Process Begins?”

Name that Policy

Obama is shifting the US policy in Afghanistan from one of stabilizing and securing the country to merely hunting down terrorists.

The New Game!  Fun for the whole family!

The evidence continues to gather that President Obama’s strategic objective in Afghanistan is not a stable, self-governing Afghanistan, able to withstand subversion by Islamist insurgency, but a narrow pursuit of Al Qaeda (and, by Obama’s official association through policy speeches, the Taliban as well).

I wrote about the “manhunt” quality of Obama’s policy in this recent post.  Obama has confirmed the thrust of his policy again in comments aired on Meet the Press this morning.  Here are his words on the question of sending more troops to Afghanistan:

“I’m not interested in just being in Afghanistan for the sake of being in Afghanistan or saving face or, in some way – you know, sending a message that America is here for the duration.” Continue reading “Name that Policy”

Sending Theirs to the Morgue

Obama would rather send theirs to the morgue than nation-build. This simplistic orientation is blinding us to the host of problems in our operational situation in Afghanistan. It also makes us thugs.

“He pulls a knife, you pull a gun.  He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue.  That’s the Chicago way!  That’s how you get Capone.” The soliloquy recited by Sean Connery’s Chicago policeman in the film The Untouchables is frequently invoked by commentators on the War on Terror.  For some years now, much of the news out of Afghanistan has been about Taliban leaders being sent to the morgue.  Taliban commanders Qari Amullah in 2005, Mullah Osmani in 2006, Mullah Dadullah and Mullah Berader in 2007, Mullah Mansur and Maulawi Hassan and Baitullah Mehsud in 2009—all have been reported killed by NATO forces, with a now-formulaic assurance that their importance to Taliban operations makes sending them to the morgue particularly significant to the War on Terror.

This parade of bodies to the morgue has, however, been fully compatible with a worsening operational situation in Afghanistan. Continue reading “Sending Theirs to the Morgue”

Strategy as Vacuum-Sealed Abstraction

NATO logistics may be the Achilles heel of the operation in Afghanistan, with overtures by the alliance to Russia and Iran, for alternatives to the current supply routes in Pakistan, potentially giving these outside powers a veto over our objectives and strategy.

An interesting situation is developing with the prosaic matter of supplying NATO operations in Afghanistan.  This evolving situation has the potential to present America with a decision point, sooner rather than later, about how important Afghanistan is to us, and what we really want to accomplish there.  It is not clear, however, how many in the US recognize the implications of the developments in question.

National Review Online, on 9 February, posted a superb article by justly-renowned historian Frederick Kagan, in which he outlines a set of nine principles he proposes the US adhere to in pursuing our Afghanistan policy.  This piece is well worth reading on its own merits, and contains useful advice.  But it is also worth reading for what it does not address – because what is left out is emblematic of America’s signature approach to policy: what we might call a geographically-disembodied “boresightedness.”

With all that is going on inside of Afghanistan, what is rapidly becoming the Achilles heel of the NATO operation there is logistics outside. Continue reading “Strategy as Vacuum-Sealed Abstraction”