December 1, 2009
Big speech tonight, 5:00 PM PST; for all of youse who plan to listen (I probably will), it's urgent for you to pay less attention to the number of troops Barack H. Obama plans to send (30,000) -- and more to any hint he gives of the strategy he will order or allow Gen. Stanley McChrystal to follow.
Will he order the counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy McChrystal said was the only strategy that could achieve victory? Or will it be the failed "counterterrorism" strategy concocted by that respected military genius, Vice President "Slow" Joe Biden? Or something else entirely which we haven't seen yet?
It makes all the difference in the world:
- Will our main focus be on protecting the civilian population of Afghanistan -- or on finding specific terrorists and killing them?
- Will we commit to stay until Afghanistan is stable and in control -- or will we announce a public withdrawal date, signalling the Taliban and al-Qaeda that they need only hang on till then?
- Will we be patrolling in company, fully integrated with Afghan forces -- or hiding in our Fortress of Solitude, only sallying forth to fight pitched battles with the Taliban?
- Will we be taking territory from the Taliban/al-Qaeda and holding it -- or chasing the bad guys from place to place to place in a big circle, ending right where they began?
- Will the rules of engagement (ROEs) allow us to attack the enemy whenever we see them, initiating campaigns and fighting them to conclusion -- or do we have to wait until we personally are attacked before we can shoot in self-defense?
- Can we follow Taliban or al-Qaeda forces across the Pakistan border in hot pursuit -- or must we always stop at the border, like the sheriff in a bad Hollywood western when he comes to the Rio Grande?
In each instance above, COIN requires the first, but a "counterterrorism" strategy would probably favor the second.
So listen close; the number of men is important, but less important than what he plans to do with them. To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, If President Obama isn't going to use his army, the American people would like to borrow it for a time.
Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 1, 2009, at the time of 2:34 PM
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