We have a president who during his election campaign ran on the idea that he was going to pursue a narrow strategy in Afghanistan centered around fighting al-Qaeda. Then he gets elected and puts in charge a guy who immediately wants more troops and seems committed to a loony nation-building exercise run under the banner of a counterinsurgency program called COIN, in which armed soldiers are supposed to double as cultural representatives -- "Think the Green Berets as an armed Peace Corps" is how Hastings wrote it. This COIN program was supposed to use large masses of American troops to go out into Afghanistan, perhaps the most change-resistant place on the planet, and help the whole country come around to our point view from behind kevlar vests.
So there was clear tension here between Obama's stated campaign vision and McChrystal's own vision, which to me sounds a lot like the old "hearts and minds" strategy of McNamara and all those other violent meddling morons from the Vietnam era. And while I know David Brooks probably does want America back using the military to convert unwitting foreign peoples to the Wal-Mart/Ikea culture at the tip of a sword, I sure as hell don't, and if someone is trying to do so on my behalf I want to know about it. MORE...
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Taibbi on Brooks on Hastings on McChrystal