Thursday, June 24, 2010

General McChrystal - Good Riddance, Now it is time to bring in a new Defense Secretary

General McChrystal's insubordination and inappropriate comments about his superiors and especially the Commander-in-Chief earned him a well deserved sack. Anything less would have been perceived as a weakness on President Obama's part.

Letting McChrystal off the hook would have opened doors to insubordination from other military officers. What is surprising however, is the rumor that Defense Secretary Robert Gates pleaded for a lesser punishment. If this is true, then it is a matter of great concern. How can the Defense Secretary not ask for full and proper punishment. In fact, it is President Obama's open mindedness to invite the General to the Oval office to explain his conduct, otherwise he could have just asked the Defense Secretary to relieve him of his command.

Robert Gates has served many a President, but he may have too much baggage from the past. In these changed times, President Obama needs to appoint a new Defense Secretary to implement his policies, someone whose thinking is completely aligned with the President.

The war in Iraq may be winding down, though the after effects of a total withdrawal are yet to emerge. However, things are not going well in Afghanistan. McChrystal may have befriended the Afghans, but his surge is not working. Taliban are a different breed altogether, each time NATO forces launch a major attack, they simply melt away and regroup to start the fight elsewhere another day. Instead of reducing, their numbers are increasing.

It is time to rethink the Afghan strategy entirely. No foreign force has ever defeated the Afghan people, and this war IS against the Afghan people, be they under the garb of Taliban. It is time to wind down the war and implement an exit strategy based on a political settlement. For that, the President needs to put on his thinking cap and he also needs new leadership at Pentagon.


Mike's Common Sense said...

I agree that McChrystal needed to be fired for insubordination. However, some of his comments get to the core of the problem. What is the USA's plan in Afghanistan? I think part of McChrystal's frustrations comes from the fact that the Obama Administration has no clear cut plan, probably because they do not see the entire picture. As you so clearly stated, Afghanistan has never been conquered by a foreign army, be it Alexander the Great, Great Britain, the Soviet Union or the United States. Afghanistan needs to resolve its issues with outside support and guidance, especially if the reports on the mineral wealth is true.
Obama needs to consult historians, Islamic religious leaders, all sides of the Afghan political scene and finally the military to help Afghanistan create their own road into the future.

Ajaz Haque said...

Mike, you make excellent points, only. I wish the U.S. Government would seek opinions of people like you.

The strange thing is that NATO and US Generals keep insisting on the need to train an Afghan army. Afghans don't need training, they are born with guns and live in gun culture all their lives. After all, who trains the Taliban? They are fighting so well against an extremely well equipped NATO & U.S. force.

Afghanistan needs a political and not a military solution and unless and until that is recognized by Washington, lives and treasure (both foreign and local) will be wasted in that country.

Mike's Common Sense said...

I think one of the problems is that when they talk of training the Afghan military the US & NATO are thinking along conventional western European modes. As you point out the Afghans live in a gun culture and are use to small guerrilla units as opposed to massive armies. Their method has been effective for ages let them carry on.
The focus needs to been on the political, educational, and especially how to use the newly discovered mineral wealth to best serve the Afghan people.