Let's see, now...what unfortunate coincidence befell the last sitting President who said "No" to the Pentagon? Hmm. Wish I had a better memory. Anyhow, Obama's annoying re-consideration of his decision this Spring to expand troop levels in Afghanistan, which I had discussed in a recent prescriptive post (A Solution for Afghanistan: Changing the Mission to Observe and Contain) was sure to generate swift repercussions from the military industrial complex crowd. And they came, mild openers such as these:
1) Republicans are telling Congressional Democrats that if B.O. withdraws, they'll personally be blamed for slaughtered virgins raining from Afghanistan's skies;These wails aren't keening over nuke-bearing Russkies and these breasts aren't being beaten over invading Chinese hordes, but over the prospect of disillusioned donut salesmen trying to figure out how to mix acetone and peroxide together and hurt other people as well. The Complex will turn up the heat on a recalcitrant White House, and the most likely political response will be re-emphasizing al-Qaeda and de-emphasizing the Taliban.
2) General Stan McChrystal has preemptively threatened to resign if he doesn't get his 40,000 more troops;
3) Impetus is gathering for congressional hearings about O's mishandling of the Afghanistan war, with a parade of generals and policy analysts. Mutiny, in other words, is afoot;
4) The Defense Secretary, Bob Gates, went on CNN Sunday and appeared to contradict his boss, saying an exit strategy would be a "strategic mistake;"
5) General David Petraeus, more on him later, again denied that he's thinking about a presidential run in 2012.
This switch of framework can be easily packaged for public consumption by explaining that al-Qaeda is offensive in nature and the Taliban is defensive, therefore a troop buildup to chase the Taliban in Afghanistan doesn't make sense--but, for the sake of the populace in the areas we've made promises, withdrawal must be very gradual and we Will Not Abandon Them. This political solution will please few other than politicians, is almost as bad operationally as a build-up, and will probably result in a creeping expansion anyway. In the spirit of the times, I hereby take the liberty of christening it Operation Kevlar Chandelier.
While it's possible B.O. will have the political courage to put his head on the line and withdraw from his Dumb War in accord with what we already do against aQ on the cheap in places like the Sudan, it's a much longer shot than any Mr. Oswald took from the Book Depository. Thankfully, a commenter named VietnamVet on Sic Semper Tyrannis (link on right) repeats myself for me:
"The Long War is a losing proposition; it will break the bank and break the force.”
The infuriating fact that we're certain to lose doesn't matter. Rory Stewart, who knows the area better than any talk show analyst, recently put it so:
I have long been a proponent of containment. The only force that works to pacify an insurrection is a native police. If an empire is going to occupy a foreign country it has to work the ethnic divisions and build a native state that can police itself. This worked more or less until WWII. However, the AK-47, IED, cell phones, internet, and excess oil money make it impossible for a Jewish or a Christian country to occupy and pacify the Muslim people.
Containment and Energy Independence are the only strategy that will work for Western Civilization. These are the only schemes that won’t bankrupt the Middle Class. Unfortunately for America’s future, all the government Stakeholders have a game to play and wedge politics has neutered the Middle Class voter.
"...basically the policy decision is made. What they would like is a little advice on some small bit. I mean, the analogy that one of my colleagues used recently is this: “We’re planning to drive our car off a cliff. Do we wear a seatbelt or not?” And we say, “Don’t drive your car off the cliff.” And they say, “No, no, no. That decision’s already made. The question is should we wear our seatbelts?” And you say, “Why by all means wear a seatbelt.” And they say, “Okay, we consulted with policy expert Rory Stewart."Post-Kennedy US foreign policy starts coming together once you realize the United States Middle Class is viewed in certain circles as an accident which should never have happened. Any straps extending underneath that class are now introduced as entitlements. Geopolitics were once games of chance to the inbred hemophiliac royals who had their private parties and scorecards and something like it is happening again. Senseless wastes and gambles begin making sense against that backdrop and the drama of tawdry and conveniently far-off places works as well as Western movies. The Apaches are out there, planting IEDs.
Thus we play the fools with time, and the spirits of the wise sit in the clouds and mock us. But there is still an ember, there is still a glimmer, and I still blow.