Only General Stanley McChrystal knows the real reason he gave his self destructive Rolling Stone interview. He’s no dummy. He knew exactly what he was doing, possibly falling on his own sword in the seemingly endless and winless Afghan conflict.
The replacement of Gen. McChrystal with his superior officer Gen. David Petraeus to pursue our nine year war in Afghanistan won’t change very much except reasserting President Obama’s authority as commander-in-chief and have in charge a more tight lipped military leader.
When a commander sees his men die around him for little positive results and feels he is working against the clock and a civilian government growing weary of such an endless campaign, he may start looking for a way out….a way out that will allow him to vent his frustration in the process.
The war in Afghanistan, in the long-term, is unwinnable unless we are willing to have a permanent presence there. And even then it will depend on what criteria one uses for victory, i.e., the smell of napalm in the morning.
This is also a conflict President Obama won’t be able to hang solely on President Bush. It was Obama’s view that we should have never invaded Iraq, instead putting all our efforts into fighting terrorism in Afghanistan. He maintains this view today, except now has a time frame for the US to leave that country…which will also mean other NATO countries will also withdraw, if they aren’t already doing so.
The naivety and arrogance of America in our foreign affairs adventures has been culminated in this desolate mountainous nation populated largely by hill tribes. In Vietnam we tried to succeed where the French had failed and we also failed. In Iraq, we created chaos, and when we finally leave the chaos will probably continue. But, in Afghanistan we have gone into a nation which has twice seen off the British and even drove out the brutal Soviets, yet we feel we can achieve victory.
Our device for this victory is Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who enjoys limited popularity in a small section of the country and is at constant risk of assassination and overthrow. It’s no wonder that he had a close working relationship with Gen. McChrystal, who was in favour on an unlimited US involvement in his country, which also meant propping up Karzai’s shaky regime….shades of Vietnam.
It seems Obama’s plan now is to emulate our exit from Vietnam, eventually turning all operations over to the Karzai regime, and hope its last longer the South Vietnam's
Our Afghan involvement stems from 9/11, the hunt for Osama Bin Laden and just as important, the brutality of the Taliban regime.
None of the 9/11 terrorists were Afghans and the Taliban didn’t plan the attacks on America. Even a decade later how many would-be Afghan terrorists have been caught in the US? Yet, this conflict has been sold as the keystone to our war on terror. While this may have been a past fallacy, the future is another matter. Every nation we invade and occupy will be a potential keystone for our war on terrorism since terrorists will probably be created by our military presence, i.e., Iraq.
America has been a nation that has used wars as a distraction from our domestic problems and challenges in a scenario straight from Orwell’s “1984”. When you think about it, since WW2, we haven’t fought a single major conflict on the basis of national security or salvation. The USA was not threatened by North Korea, Vietnam or Iraq. These were wars of ideology or economy.
And in Afghanistan, before we discovered it was a hotbed of terrorists, our outrage was directed at the Taliban’s brutal treatment of women. But, having Ms. Magazine and Hillary outraged at enforced burkas for the ladies wasn’t enough for a war…that’s where the hotbed of terrorism came in. We had a right to seek revenge against Bin Laden and all who sheltered him. The war was on.
However, eventually we discovered that most of Bin Laden’s gang were holed up in Pakistan, our loyal unstable nuclear power ally. And, to the west of Afghanistan, Iran was busy building it own nuclear arsenal.
So, one can probably see why McChrystal mouthed off as he did. With all this and the knowledge that long-term success will be limited in a region that lacks a strong central government and is run by tribal fiefdoms, he may have wanted a way out of an unwinnable situation.