Well, I had stole Kyle Chandler’s Sunday paper and got the chance to write about Jack Kelly’s column before most other bloggers or whom ever would bother. But I squandered that chance by being busy this afternoon and lazy this evening. Which is a shame because I think the subject matter of Kelly’s column is pretty important. He talked this Sunday about Afghanistan and how Obama should conduct that war.
Kelly starts the column agreeing that in fact Bush did screw up the Afghan war, by not giving it enough attention. That’s probably true, but it is surprising to see Kelly say it. But the big issue is whether Obama should add troops. Kelly does not actually take a stand on that, instead he says things like that adding troops is the only way to win the war, but if Obama does it becomes Obama’s war. He also says that not adding troops might keep the war out of the public eye, but would backfire shortly.
Kelly also at one point snarks that just adding troops won’t win the war by itself, we need to apply the lessons of Iraq to Afghanistan. He also decides at the end of the column to agree with a retired intelligence officer and suggest that we pull most of out troops out, and simply use drones and special forces to kill terrorists.
Columns like this make me think back to the Civil War, when Lincoln kept McClellan on as a general for way too long. Everyone goes into battle planning on winning, but wishing or even ordering your generals to win won’t make it happen. You need to have experienced people who are comfortable in battle, and of course we should have people like that now.
But I keep thinking of the Soviets, who invaded Afghanistan in December of 1979, and left ten years later. They had a 100,000 men there, not as well equipped, well trained or well motivated as our troops, but more willing to be brutal to win the conflict. And they couldn’t.
Honestly I don’t know what the answer for Afghanistan is. We have a vested interest in eliminating the poppy trade, but the Afghans have a bigger interest in continuing the trade. And even though Jack Kelly complains about our treating the Pakistanis as allies and Kharzai (sp?) as a good guy, you have to go with the facts on the ground. Treating Kharzai as a corrupt politician does not help us much, and cutting ourselves off from Pakistan means losing access to the Taliban
I don’t think Kelly advanced the dialogue this week, but he did less than usual to hurt it.