The growing conflagration that was set off this week by the publication of the The Runaway General, in Rolling Stone Magazine has managed to push the BP oil spill off the front pages. Now that this story is out, it looks like the only person who might have been on top of this was Michael Yon who of late has been catching serious flak from many mil-bloggers for calling out the leadership in Afghanistan without solid evidence. One thing that this may do far beyond costing General Stanly McChrystal his job and reputation is that it will put the discussion of the strategy of Afghanistan in the face of the American public.
Driving home today, the local talk radio stations were abuzz with discussions about Afghanistan, and had suddenly discovered COIN, and how much it will cost to try and build a functioning country from scratch. I can say from the conversations on a major talk radio station in Southern California, that the callers sounded alot like Col Gian Gentile in their opposition in what most, felt was a massive waste of treasury and lives in trying to build a nation that was viewed as totally outside the strategic circle of importance to American security. Gut feeling tells me this could become a tipping point, or a strategic opportunity for Obama to foster public support for cutting our losses and adopting the strategy that George Will suggested a few months back Time to Get Out of Afghanistan. I think as this story keeps it's legs, the flustration of wasting money and time in what for most people in the developed world, is an excercise if futility will begin to bear fruit and the clamor to bring the boys home and leave the Afghanis to their own devices will prevail. The only mistake AQ can do to stop this, is pull off some successful terrorist attack and begin the cycle of reaction.
When I read beyond the hubris demontrated in the first few paragraphs, and delve into the meat of the article, the real relevation is how disjointed, counter-productive, estranged and clueless the branches of government appear when developing and following a strategy that meets the strategic goals of the United States. Let's face it folks, we supposedly went to Afghanistan after 9/11/01 to destroy the Taliban, Al-Qaida and capture or kill Osama Bin Ladin. So far, nine years later we are still trying to destroy the Taliban and AQ and have for all pratical purposes, resorted to Hellfire missile strikes to try and get lucky in the Northwest Frontier of Pakistan in ending OBL's tenure on earth.
Here is a rundown on the latest bad news coming this past month from Afghanistan that leads and finally over takes the McChrystal implosion brought courtesy of Yahoo News.
Here's a review of the parade of horribles emanating from Afghanistan in the weeks preceding McChrystal's outburst:
May 25, 2010: The Army launches an investigation of 10 soldiers near Kandahar for the murder of three Afghan civilians and illegal drug use. One soldier is eventually charged; five remain under investigation.
May 28, 2010: A roadside bombing kills the 1,000th American in Afghanistan.Here is how the other blogs see this story.
May 29, 2010: McChrystal calls Marjah, the subject of a massive NATO offensive last spring to oust the Taliban and prop up civilian institutions, a "bleeding ulcer" at a gathering of Afghan officials and civilian strategists. The Marjah campaign was the first prong of the surge strategy McChrystal advocated, and he has essentially acknowledged that it didn't succeed: "I think that we've done well, but I think that the pace of security has been slower. I'm thinking that, had we put more force in there, we could have locked that place down better."
June 2, 2010: A peace summit called by Afghan President Hamid Karzai and attended by McCrystal is attacked by Taliban mortar and small-arms fire. McChrystal has to be evacuated as Karzai offers peace terms to the Taliban over the noise of Taliban rockets. Karzai would later blame the attack on American forces.
June 7, 2010: After 104 months of combat, the Afghanistan conflict becomes the longest war in U.S. history.
June 10, 2010: McChrystal tells reporters at a meeting of NATO defense ministers that a long-planned operation to pacify the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar this summer — designed to serve as a follow-up blow to the bungled Marjah campaign — will be delayed. "I do think it will happen more slowly than we had originally anticipated," McChrystal said.
June 11, 2010: The New York Times reports that, according to two former senior advisers to the Afghan president, Karzai has lost faith in America's capacity to prevail in Afghanistan and is seeking a separate peace with the Taliban without informing NATO. "The president has lost his confidence in the capability of either the coalition or his own government to protect this country," one of the advisers told the Times. "President Karzai has never announced that NATO will lose, but the way that he does not proudly own the campaign shows that he doesn't trust it is working."
June 13, 2010: The New York Times reports that the U.S. military has "discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan," in a story that U.S. officials cooperated with. The story contained little new information about Afghanistan's deposits, which Karzai himself had claimed to be worth between $1 trillion and $3 trillion in February; it is widely viewed as a transparent attempt by the U.S. to fight back against the growing tide of negative press.
June 16, 2010: WikiLeaks announces that it will soon release leaked military video of a U.S. gunship attack near Garani, Afghanistan, that killed nearly 150 civilians, including women and children, in May 2009.
June 22, 2010: A congressional report finds that the U.S. is paying millions of dollars in protection money to Afghan warlords — and potentially to the Taliban — to provide security for convoys. The U.S. practice of outsourcing supply transports has "fueled a vast protection racket run by a shadowy network of warlords, strongmen, commanders, corrupt Afghan officials," and provided "a significant potential source of funding for the Taliban," the report said.
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