The Kagan/McChrystal Strategy

"If the Afghan government were fully legitimate, there would be no insurgency. U.S. and international actions must aim to improve the Afghan government's ability to provide basic services such as security and dispute resolution nationwide, building the legitimacy of the government in Kabul sufficiently to dampen a large-scale insurgency. They must persuade and even compel Afghan leaders to stop activities that alienate the people and create fertile ground for insurgents. "  The Kagans


What does the first sentence mean?  Does it mean that if all the Afghans accepted the Karzai government, then the war would not be.  Is that supposed to be profound?   Let's see, on that basis, if all the Apache bands had accepted the territorial government of Arizona in the 1870s and 1880s, there would have been no fighting between whites and Indians…  That is probably true.

The second sentence says that we must make the Karzai government a better government so that it will be "legitimate" in the sense of the first sentence.  That implies a massive effort to produce those changes.  CORDS, the COIN operation in Vietnam had 10,000 people involved in doing exactly what the Kagans suggest will be necessary.  How many people do we have in Afghanistan today doing this sort of advisory work in all the aspects of Afghan governnance?  How many will we recruit, train, pay, sustain, replace?  In the CORDS effort the families of the advisers were moved to nearby third countries like the Phillippines or Thailand in order to be able to commit the advisers "in country" for several years.  Are we going to do that?

The third sentence says that we must be prepared to use whatever means necessary to "compel" Afghan government to be what the Kagans believe would suffice to insure "legitimacy."  What will we do if they fail to obey us?

To make any of this feasible a great many friendly troops must be available to "protect the people" so that good governance can move their sentiments in the direction of granting "legitimacy" to the government.

There are a lot of village and towns in Afghanistan, even if one only considers Pushtun villages.  The active army is stretched pretty thin.  The suicide and attempted suicide rate is becoming a serious matter.  People with families can not be pushed emotionally beyond a certain level of alienation from home and hearth.  Perhaps it was not such a good idea to build the force around middle class married soldiers.

If President Obama is going to accept the opinions of the Kagans and their four star pupils, then McChrystal should be given all the troops he asks for in this trenche and the next ones as well.  Some consideration of a revival of the draft should also be done and a start made on recruiting, etc. for a really large body of qualified advisers.  pl

This entry was posted in Afghanistan. Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to The Kagan/McChrystal Strategy

  1. says:

    All I can say is, this is scary and I’m speechless!

  2. Charles I says:

    Not to worry, the cavalry is coming:
    “US allies may offer up to 5,000 troops for Afghanistan”
    Er, may be coming.
    Be ludicrous to send one more soldier there, so surely 35-40K are in the pipe. To be sucked toward the border. Like watching a car wreck.

  3. Phil Giraldi says:

    I never quite get the Kagans and can’t understand why they are repeatedly given a pulpit in the MSM to preach their mush. Do they seriously think that more English- speaking US soldiers will have enough of an understanding of what is going on around them to detect local corruption and be able to root it out? They are giving our soldiers a dual role – counterinsurgency and also something like morals police combined with an inspector general’s function. If there is a good reason to stay in Afghanistan (which I doubt) Washington must have a clearly defined objective with some idea of how to go forward that is not pie in the sky. The Kagan plan sounds an awful lot like more democracy building with a heavier US footprint to make it work, using coercion if necessary.

  4. FB Ali says:

    An Afghan government propped up by the USA and forced to become a ‘good’ government would be a foreign-imposed ‘good’ government.
    However good its governance, it would be fought tooth and nail by the great majority of Afghans. For as long as it takes.
    That this kind of poppycock is being seriously discussed in the MSM as a policy option indicates that an epidemic of ‘insanity flu’ is raging in certain circles of the US policy establishment. The illness is terminal ‒ something drastic needs to be done soon about it before it infects too many influential people!

  5. Lysander says:

    Shoot me for being dubious, but wouldn’t sending 40k more U.S. troops make it EVEN MORE difficult for the U.S. to deal with the Kagans’ real target, namely Iran? Wouldn’t it make the U.S. even more dependent on an unstable Pakistan for supplies? I’m no logistician, but I’m guessing 40,000 U.S. soldiers in the field need a whole lot of stuff and the tooth fairy isn’t going to bring it.
    Unless they assume that the U.S. can do all things at all times and at an acceptable cost.

  6. Redhand says:

    “If the Afghan government were fully legitimate, there would be no insurgency.”
    The statement is utterly meaningless. “Fully legitimate?” Has there EVER been a “fully legitimate” government in Afghanistan capable of exerting firm control over all provinces?
    Not to my knowledge. The place from time immemorial has been a land of tribalism and factionalism.
    If the Pakistanis, with their own, “independent” government, have never been able to eliminate these elements from the “wild west” bordering Afghanistan, what hope to we have of establishing a border-to-border “fully legitimate” government with the corrupt Karzai client regime?
    People like the Kagans make my brains hurt. Get the hook!

  7. Buzz Meeks says:

    Rendition Kagan to Afghanistan. Put him out there in the middle of it to see what his cute and manly cliches can do for him.
    Bring back the draft for neo-cons and AIPAC members. I would wager a very high rate of desertion. I wouldn’t worry about their suicide rate, they wouldn’t have the balls to do it. And if they do, good for them.
    Buzz Meeks

  8. Hypatia says:

    I hate every one of the Kagans. They are ALL worthless.

  9. JM says:

    Perhaps a long-term CORDS-like program was what the Bush Admin had in mind when designing the massive embassy complex in Iraq?
    Too bad we can’t just airlift the entire compound to Kabul. Sounds like we might need it.

  10. jmc5588 says:

    Haven’t we heard this song before?
    “For might makes right,
    Until they’ve seen the light.
    They’ve got to be protected;
    All their rights respected,
    Till someone we like can get elected!”
    -Tom Lehrer, c. 1963

  11. Fred says:

    This is an enlightening paragraph: “American military forces can also help restrain politicians’ abuses of power. …American commanders can collect evidence on individual offenders that a reformed Afghan judicial system would one day be able to use. In the short term, such evidence can be published, embarrassing the official and others involved….We can also threaten to add the worst offenders to our target lists when abuse of power directly supports the enemy….”
    Does the Kagan’s really believe this? We’ll keep track of the corrupt politicians so ‘one day’ they’ll be tried by the ‘reformed’ Afghan judiciary? Otherwise we’ll publish a list of corrupt officials to embarrass them into performing with integrity?
    At least the next to last line seems to fit the neo-con idea of good government: “We can also threaten to add the worst offenders to our target lists when abuse of power directly supports the enemy.” Yes, do what you are told to do by Washington or you might get shot. As if that threat will end the anti-Karzai insurgency.

  12. N. M. Salamon says:

    Off topic:
    A very interesting analysis of the Iranian Nuclear issue by Prof. Cole Nov 28 09 at:
    Enjoy! [Kagans and AIPAC would disagree!]

  13. JohnH says:

    Kagan’s statement is simply wrong. In Washington’s eyes, only the US can determine whether a government is legitimate or not. Palestinians, particularly Hamas supporters, know this only too well. So having a “legitimate” government solves nothing, unless that government represents the will of the people it governs.
    But the Kagans and the rest of Washington do not want truly legitimate governments, because they might interfere with US ambitions. As usual the Kagans are simply blowing neo-conmen smoke.

  14. John Badalian says:

    Dear Colonel Patrick-
    In Barack Obama’s “Dreams of My Father”, did this lost young man fantasize about Tom Freidman? It seems to a rank outsider that the influence of his powerful, Eastern, Neo-liberal, Harvard Law Classmates totally control for what passes for our President’s thought processes. Depressing servility. If Bubba Clinton was our 1st “Black” President (per the writer Toni Morrison); then what’s Obama…?
    Colonel, is there even a vibrant Loyal Opposition??

  15. PitchPole says:

    You stole my post, Buzz. What I’d most like to see is the whole pack of these arm chair warrior ass-clowns humping 80 pound packs up some winding mountain trail in hostile country. Kristol, Kagans, the whole stinking lot – give ’em a m-16, some defective body armor and all the mre’s they can carry. They got grand ideas? Fine, they can go bleed for them. If the policies they’re pushing results in a draft, they better move to Diego Garcia…..

  16. Cieran says:

    I would express polite disagreement with the use of the word “strategy” in your title. The Kagans present no feasible plans, and only implicitly express any meaningful (much less achievable) goals that a legitimate strategy would be designed to realize.
    As always, what the Kagans present is mere pointless rhetoric, designed to obfuscate the real story at play here. Note for example the pattern of multiple negatives found in the closing paragraph: this is not the hallmark of authors interested in clarity or transparency.
    I would suggest that the phrase “smoke and mirrors” is a better description of what they provide here, not “strategy”.
    Such willful confusion is necessary because the value proposition supported by the Kagans, when stripped to its essentials, goes something like this: if a country harbors a terrorist organization that attacks the U.S., then our national response should be to rebuild the roads and sewers and police forces of that offending nation, at great cost to us in blood and treasure.
    Viewed in that obvious light, what the Kagans advocate is simple-minded at best, hence their desire to cover their tracks with pointless rhetoric, e.g., the topic sentence that you wonder about. That sentence is meaningless because its antecedent is false, hence its consequent is logically vacuous… just like everything else associated with the Kagans.

  17. ISL says:

    Dear Colonel;
    Fellow SST poster Fred is onto an important point. If we were to assume a representative Afghanistan government, why would their (largely very conservative Islam voting citizens) support versus oppose even militarily, US goals (whatever they might be).
    Representative and democratic governments in Europe opposed the Kagan line on Iraq- could they have forgotten? Or is this intellectually dishonest pablum.

  18. Jackie says:

    The commenters here do not seem to be impressed by the Kagans thinking and writings. Oh heck, let’s throw Kristol in, too.
    I agree with the above suggestions to rendition them to Afghanistan with MREs and 80# backpacks. And anything else unpleasant to make them see the error of their ways.
    Not one single more soldier for Kagan/McChrystal strategy. I hate excercises in futility.

  19. curious says:

    Kagan is useful for only one thing: to tell what the beltway hawk/AEI crew are thinking. (in relation to Israel game theory diplomacy, aipac next domestic political move)
    What he says about afghanistan is irrelevant to actual afghanistan and frankly, accidental.
    Random schmo on the net like me could have write better assessment.
    (Anyway, thing to watch. This is an important indicator how the arab world will behave in the next few months, primarily the big alliances. I think they will fail and start shooting at each other soon. the magnitude of pressure and political manipulation is beyond believe.
    On the other hand, if US fails to accomplished destruction of Dubai-Iran financial link. We are talking about Saudi eliminating the dollar-Riyal peg territory.)
    The United States government, which has remained somewhat taciturn throughout this crisis, is no doubt encouraging Abu Dhabi to apply this pressure. In part because of Dubai’s connections to Iran, US financial institutions are not among the biggest creditors to Dubai World.
    Abu Dhabi has been trying to put pressure on Dubai to cut ties to Iran. The split between Abu Dhabi and Iran is in part rooted in an older territorial dispute, fear of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, religious differences between Shiites and Sunnis, and—importantly—Abu Dhabi’s close ties to Washington, DC.
    The UAE is close to reaching a nuclear power cooperation deal with Washington, a move that many regional experts say would challenge the traditional Saudi hegemony in the Gulf. One sticking point in the negotiations with Washington has been concerns that Dubai could share US nuclear technology with Iran.
    This power struggle between Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia is also playing a role. In May, the UAE May pulled out of a proposed Gulf monetary union over Saudi insistence that it would host the regional central bank.
    Dubai, which is a very open and tolerant place compared to Iran, is viewed by many Iranians as a place to let their hair down. It has a thriving Iranian ex-pat community. Iran is Dubai airport’s top destination, with more than 300 flights per week.

  20. J says:

    The Kagans of the world seem to forget one salient point regarding the artificial created Afghanistan, — it’s the boneyard of empires. Alexander the Great and those who followed in his errant footsteps found out the hard truth — you may conquer but you cannot maintain it nor rule over it.
    And to think, most of the Kagan types of the world have never served in any uniform let alone any battle, and yet are given a media bully pulpit to spew forth their dribble.

  21. matt says:

    Anyone else here see Bill Moyers excellent program last week? He simply replayed the LBJ tapes… It’s as if they could play the same tapes now – just changing the place names.

  22. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    Some may feel it is time to regard the Kagans, Neocons etal. as agents provacateurs betraying in a systematic way the national interests of this republic. Others may think they are merely modern day Alcibiades types.
    Just where do the Kagans get their funding for themselves and for their foundation and other activities?
    Has anyone, for example, done a careful analysis of their foundation and its funding sources?

  23. Have the Kagans ever addressed the core issue of the narcotics production and distribution trade to AFGHAN life in any of their writings? Why not? Are they users?

  24. Bob Bernard says:

    Is the President’s Afghanistan policy with its planned beginning of a pull out in 1011 a case of COIN-tus Interruptus?

Comments are closed.