It’s funny, I had a discussion the other day with a man who owns a nearby vacuum store. See our vacuum we bought from him broke and I went to get it repaired. Dressed in my uniform that recruiters wear he knew I was in the Marines and wanted to know what my thoughts were on the election. He is a big supporter of the current President and his conversation was wrapped around getting out of Afghanistan. I spent what turned into 40 minutes of a lecture as to why giving our enemies an exact date of withdraw is bad. I penned a map of the area (he had no clue that Afghanistan was landlocked or where Pakistan was in relation to Iran) and explained the logistics of getting out of there and the past failures of the Alexander the Great/The Brits and the Russians in that country and what made our mission different. I could go on for hours…poor guy.
Anyway, another friend of mine was having a conversation about the same thing and I asked if I could post his thoughts, so thank you Blue for allowing this and I hope you all enjoy this short missive on the impact of this election for our mission in the Stans.
“We are in the military. We are all military thinkers, and as such we must not be driven by emotional responses. We can’t say, “Screw it, let’s shut out the lights and leave!” There is a difference between passion and emotionalism, and we need to stay on the side of informed passion and avoid frustrated emotional responses. Some are looked to by civilian readership for some leadership, some courage. Emotionalism in that role can be harmful, or at least unhelpful. In the end, it sounds like another voice in support of the president’s non-strategy; even if it is a negative reaction to it.”
“I get the frustration. I do. I understand the urge to cry out for evacuation. I do. And it’s wrong. First, logistically, it’s impossible or at least completely improbable. You simply can’t move all that shit that quickly. Second, it’s just flat ill-advised. If you want a dissertation on why, I’ll happily drown you all in words that will make lots of sense if you dry your eyeballs out reading them.”
“Instead, I’ll give you this; if you want to advise quitting, your prayers have been, in part, answered. Our commanders in the field have quit. Force protection is job 1. Period. Mission? Not really. And it’s evident. What’s happening now is lip-service being paid to the advisory mission and the de facto implementation of the Biden plan. Our military in Afghanistan is a lost ball in tall grass. We have lost our way because command climate trickles down, and our national strategy on Afghanistan is not based on any goal or desired end state in Afghanistan other than for it to be a plus in favor of Obama’s reelection. The national command climate, set by the CIC, is a shambles, and that’s reflected in the zeitgeist on the ground. National security strategy, the objective of which becomes to satisfy domestic political imperatives, is not national security strategy; it is domestic political campaigning. That is what Afghanistan has become.”
“It’s what Afghanistan has been since the day that Obama announced his non-conditions-based withdrawal schedule with a time hack one month and six days before the 2012 election.”
“An Army left to fight a domestic political campaign in a foreign country will fail at it. (Nobody told the Marines that they were fighting for votes in the 89th precinct, so they keep fighting what they believe to be a war.)”
“Romney’s approach to this is brilliant. He cannot win otherwise. He could not possibly have a brilliant campaign plan for Afghanistan. He cannot possibly win after proclaiming Obama’s “strategy” of withdrawal to be in the least bit ill-advised. There is no way for him to politically overcome the seduction of withdrawal. It’s like the voice in your head that screams at you to stop running in the late stages of the longest run you’ve ever done. America has that voice screaming in it’s head… and it sounds a lot like Obama’s voice. He has always been the voice of the easy path, the seduction of the abdication of responsibility; the excusable acceptance of mediocrity. For the same reasons that Social Security disability claims have surged so much in the past four years, there is no overcoming the seduction of the softer, easier path.”
“It is best that Afghanistan is a non-issue in this election.”
“That being said, it is a shame that it can’t be adequately discussed. But, since that is impossible, it must be kept from the fray at this point. Romney has handled this well. His endorsement of the withdrawal deadline will not survive the first quarter year of his presidency. But he danced around the president’s attempt to paint him as a hawk. That was all he needed to do. In an America which has convinced itself that Afghanistan is too difficult and in fact unworthy of our best efforts, which has convinced itself that it is tired of a war that most have experienced a few minutes at a time on the news, a hawk is not what the sheeple want to vote for.”
“And trying to explain that Obama’s plan is a disaster unfolding would avail him nothing.”
“What would a President Romney be expected to do? I expect that he will approach this problem as he approaches any business problem. That in itself would be a huge leap… if you will excuse my political jingoism… forward.”
“It’s hell when a simple word like the word “forward” become tainted by politicization.”
“I would expect a top-down review to be commissioned immediately after his inauguration. Obama did the same thing. He assembled (arguably) the best set of minds you could find on the subject of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and they gave him good recommendations. At first, he appeared to listen. Then he pulled the rug out from under the whole thing with the announcement of the withdrawal date. It was immediately apparent as being driven by domestic political needs of the president, not driven by national security needs for results. Here is where I would expect to see differences. I would expect Romney to actually listen to the advice that he is given. Romney is not a national security strategist, but he will know what his desired end state is. When he chooses a strategy option generated by actual strategists, it will be chosen based upon that desired end state and not based upon domestic political imperatives. A real goal based upon a desired end state on the ground will be a step (again, please forgive me) forward.”
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