What was that about Afghanistan not being even remotely analogous to Vietnam?
Implementing the McChrystal plan will perpetuate the longstanding fundamentals of US national security policy: maintaining a global military presence, configuring US forces for global power projection, and employing those forces to intervene on a global basis. The McChrystal plan modestly updates these fundamentals to account for the lessons of 9/11 and Iraq, cultural awareness and sensitivity nudging aside advanced technology as the signature of American military power, for example. Yet at its core, the McChrystal plan aims to avert change. Its purpose – despite 9/11 and despite the failures of Iraq – is to preserve the status quo.
If the president assents to McChrystal’s request, he will void his promise of change at least so far as national security policy is concerned. The Afghanistan war will continue until the end of his first term and probably beyond. It will consume hundreds of billions of dollars. It will result in hundreds or perhaps thousands more American combat deaths – costs that the hawks are loath to acknowledge.
Bah — costs, shmosts. Remember, kids: Failure is not an option; No end but victory; Clap harder, etc. Positive reinforcement is like the platinum card of force projection — and one can always refinance the mounting debt if the interest proves too great.
Obama deserves some credit for at least refusing to capitulate immediately to the military’s demands without taking time to consider alternative options. Russ Feingold just wrote another Op-Ed arguing for a withdrawal timetable from Afghanistan, but that option is not even part of the Washington debate. The only issue is whether to escalate and, if so, by how much. The Washington Post today reported that as part of Obama’s March order for 21,000 more troops to Afghanistan, “the White House has also authorized — and the Pentagon is deploying — at least 13,000 troops beyond that number.” With Democrats like Feinstein controlling the U.S. Senate, is it any wonder that our status as a perpetual war nation appears to continue indefinitely?
Ah well, if we can’t actually be granted meaningful Change™ in the direction of US foreign policy, at least we can vicariously cling to the imperial hopes and dreams of those who profit from the expansionist state.
Yes, we can.
Oh, and for us Canucks, the prospect of US forces committing to a protracted, NATO-lead COIN campaign in Afghanistan combined with soaring Tory poll numbers would appear to put Harper’s long-promised 2011 exit date for Canadian combat troops in serious question.
Ok, I guess there are some differences between Afghanistan and Vietnam — at least Canada knew enough to stay out of that tar pit.
Related: First Van Jones, now Joe Biden?! Seriously, Arianna Huffington (or her ghost-writer, natch) desperately needs to get over the notion that being out of power somehow magically imparts one greater influence (and PONIES!)