The Clinton – Warner Interview


"MARGARET WARNER: So is a real change in strategy, at least an alternative, which is not trying to build up or, or create capacity in a strong central government, but going to a different model. Doing a more classic counter-terrorism campaign, attacking al-Qaida leaders and having fewer combat forces on the ground? Are you actually reassessing whether counterinsurgency is the way to go here?

HILLARY CLINTON: You know I think it's fair to say, Margaret, that we have an open mind to any argument that is made. Now I'm sure each of us is entering into this process with our own points of view and our own base of understanding what will or will not work. And what General McChrystal has done is to provide his assessment. We will get assessments from others as well. And then we will hash it out in the National Security Council team and then we will present our best recommendations to the president. But at the end of the day it's the president's decision and I think what we heard the president saying yesterday is look, you're going to have to convince me that whatever decision, is it classic counter-insurgency with additional troops? Is it counter-insurgency at the same troop level? Is it a different mix of troops? Is it a counter terrorism strategy?"  Newshour


It would seem from this that in spite of all the "logrolling" from assorted COINish generals, COINish literati, neoconish wonks and congressional Republicans, there still is an active process in the White House for policy deliberation.

In other words, the game is not over yet.  pl


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13 Responses to The Clinton – Warner Interview

  1. OldCoastie says:

    Hopefully Hillary keeps a good head on her shoulders… I suspect she doesn’t get pushed around easily – even by big shot generals.

  2. Actually the game is over. The trial ballon is not a ballon but instead a foundation document for a renewed effort and failed strategy for success in AF-PAK! Even though this effort will fail it might succeed in keeping the DEMS in the majority in 2010 and giving OBAMA a second term for giving the military-industrial-academic complex what they want and need to survive–continuation of foreign wars whenever and whereever. But it will be interesting to see if any falling on their swords by administration officials. Predicting possibly Hillary and a primary challenge to Obama.

  3. IMO there are also constitutional issues related to War Powers and Executive-Congressional authority.
    Congress rubber stamped the Iraq War and clearly failed in its deliberative process. Where were the searching hearings in the Committees on Foreign Relations, Defense, Intell??? Where was any attention to War Powers and Constitutional issues?
    Senator Kerry just made a reference to the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. I would think some very searching hearings at SFRC are in order with respect to the present situation in South Asia to include Af-Pak.
    The President should check with the Attorney General as to War Powers issues and any major escalation and Congress should be more jealous of its powers and vigilant against the constant encroachment and usurpation by an Executive advised by designing men and women.

  4. Mike Martin, Yorktown, VA says:

    Well, I see La Familia Kagan at AEI argues for 40-45,000 more U.S. troops in Afghanistan in 2010. Brilliant… or as one of my Army (ret) buddies said, “Let’s let him walk point for a while and see if changes his mind.”

  5. @CK,
    War powers is a great point. But, when has this ever really constrained any President?
    Unfortunately, Congress has long abdicated its Constitutional role in war making. And I suspect, nothing short of a revolution will return the power to them that they (willingly) ceded.

  6. J says:

    Since the La Familia Kagans love war and love to throw other people’s children under their ‘war bus’, how about we box up the Kagans onto a C141 and drop them off in a Afghanistan hot spot, and let them contribute in a personal way to ‘their war’.

  7. Jon T. says:

    Currently reading Jon Krakauer’s “Where Men Win Glory”. Potent and moving for me. Great quotes from Nietzche, Emerson, Greeks as well as a powerful narrative and many, many interviews and excerpts from testimonies.
    In it, I believe, JK asserts that Gen. S. McCh. has been in close contact in the past with R. Cheney & D. Rumsfeld.
    Can anyone verify that?
    If it is so, do we have many questions here about the nexus given to increase the Afghanistan troop base?
    As Col Lang said a few weeks ago, there are on our side highly trained and top level professional soldiers, e.g. the snipers that rescued Maersk Capt. Phillips. Set them hard upon the AQ operators from PK and other foreign lands. Bring our money back here.
    The same dialectic over power and money procedes as was occuring buring G. Bush’s term. Because there is a different man up front may not allow a different outcome.
    Would that it were not so.
    Diana, JFK, RFK, MLK, many more would be happy.
    As would I.

  8. Brian Hart says:

    I applaud Obama for not being steam rolled by McChrystal and whoever leaked his document to the WaPo to pressure the President. Its time to have this discussion with the public and the congress.
    As to the 40-45K recommendation, it was probably done on a napkin. It costs twice as much to keep a soldier in Afghanistan as Iraq. We are going to pull out somewhere around 80-100,000 troops from the Iraq/Kuwait area in the next year. 90K divided by 2 = 45K soldiers or thereabouts. McChrystal knows he can’t get a budget increase for DOD this coming year so he asked for all he could get up to that point.
    Sadly, given the current strategy in Afghanistan we don’t have enough soldiers or enough gold to finish the job.

  9. F B Ali says:

    Bravo Hillary! Her reply to Margaret Warner is the first hopeful note I have heard in the funereal drumbeat accompanying the zombie-like march of the administration (and the US) to the Afghan cliff-edge. Perhaps the coming NSC debate will not be merely a formal ratification of the plunge.
    It has recently become clear that Obama was becoming worried at the prospect opening before him. The problem was whether anyone around him would confirm the dangers and help him to find a way out. The military hierarchy was on a roll, massed behind their picked standard-bearer, white-knight McChrystal, whom they had converted to their COIN strategy, and whose advocacy of it had the added potency of the implied threat that he was the type who would quit if his demand for more troops was rejected.
    Secretary Gates, the quintessential Washington player, was making suitable noises preparatory to jumping in with both feet as soon as it became clear which side was going to win. Gen Jones seems to believe his role is that of a staff facilitator (in the Berthier mode), and, thus, it would be a violation for him to express an opinion (even if he had one) during policy debates. Ambassador Holbrooke follows the script written for him by his war-minded advisers. It is not clear where the intelligence community stands; will Blair do a Tenet? (Chas Freeman, where are you?).
    That left Hillary Clinton. It was obvious that she had ten times the intelligence and the toughness of any of these others, but did she have available the expert advice to take on the gobbledegook masquerading behind the COIN strategy being pushed by the military? There was also the possibility that she might let her political calculus affect the views she expressed, though it seemed unlikely that she’d follow Colin Powell’s example – mumble some warnings, and then jump smartly on to the bandwagon.
    The remarks she made to Margaret Warner show that she is clearly aware of the various military options in Afghanistan, and is considering them with her team, which obviously has some military expertise in it. One wishes she would do more than merely consider alternatives for Afghanistan, that she would ask (in her own department and in the NSC) the more fundamental questions: If the enemy is al-Qaeda, why should we fight the Taliban? What is al-Qaeda now? Where is it? Is it any longer the pre-9/11 organization that needed base areas? Has it not become more of a brand-name that assorted political Islamists adopt all over the Muslim world? Is COIN or any such military strategy the right way of dealing with these Islamists? In fact, is the US military at all the proper means of dealing with them?

  10. psc says:

    All of this praise for Hillary is making me puke. Remember, she is a politician and she voted for the Iraq war. She even dodged incoming rounds on a tarmac in the former Yugoslavia.
    Hillary will do what is best for Hillary.
    This reminds me of the esteem that Colin Powell still holds. The man flunked his big test at the UN and for that he should be publicly shamed like Robt MacNamara. The list for public shaming is long and Hillary is at the top of it.

  11. charlottemom says:

    PL, I hope you’re right.
    FB Ali
    “Is COIN or any such military strategy the right way of dealing with these Islamists? In fact, is the US military at all the proper means of dealing with them?”
    These are excellent and pointed questions.

  12. Ingolf says:

    I’m with charlottemom; FB Ali’s questions are exactly the ones that should be asked, particularly the last one. Would that it had been in the days after 9/11.
    While on the subject of dreams, amen to Clifford’s wish that Congress would “be more jealous of its powers and vigilant against the constant encroachment and usurpation by an Executive advised by designing men and women”.
    Unfortunately, SP is almost certainly right.

  13. @Jon T.,
    McCrystal was once the commander of the JSOC, which, if memory serves, was alleged to be Darth Cheney’s private, personal hit squad, given by W, Cheney, Don R. and Wolfie a globe-spanning “manhunting” mission.
    After JSOC, General Stanley spent some time on the Joint Staff (Director?) just before his COIN-conversion and elevation by General Dave’s cashiering of McKiernan.

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