Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Obama and the Generals

It is heartening to see Obama taking some time before responding to McChrystal's request for another 40,000 troops for Afghanistan. The Biden proposal apparently has been altered a bit, to my disappointment, in that troop reductions seem to be out of the picture at the moment; but it seems we truly are lucky not to have President McCain, who seems to believe that anything a general asks for should be delivered immediately.

My guess is that the real holdup is the lack of a viable Afghanistani partner due to Karzai's almost laughably transparent manipulation of the election results. Can Obama hang in there and do little or nothing until that mess is straightened out? Maybe.

His first order of business, though, must be pulling back the undermanned, isolated outposts in the south to cut back the alarming increase in American fatalities. The Taliban — or whoever is organizing the attacks on those outposts — is demonstrating considerable military skill and determination, with well planned assaults rather than spontaneous raids.

As for McChrystal and the generals, Obama must bear in mind that they are military men who automatically think of military solutions for every problem — and as the Soviets learned some years back, a military solution might not be a solution at all.

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