Friday, October 09, 2009

Conservative Miss

Peggy Noonan has articulated the Conservative case of why General McChrystal should be called for Congressional hearings - in order for the American Public to know all sides of this Afghan war. She supplements her argument by giving examples of Lincoln and the way he handled McClellan. Needless to say, the old man, Sen. McCain is jumping up and down all the way hyperventilating about how President Obama is 'at sleep' when America is burning in Kabul. But America has seen that 'movie' before. Last time it ran - President Bush was to announce TARP when over excitedly then presidential candidate Sen. McCain suspended his campaign to render dramatic politics in White House - it did not add any value to America; Americans saw the bluff and Sen. McCain lost badly. No reason to get excited, this time too.

What Peggy and Conservatives miss in this case is - what if the General is wrong? Is the Administration and Obama supporters going to come out in Public and mount a political attack on the General and the Pentagon to prove their point? How good that will be in today's environment? Is such public discrediting of the General, Army and Pentagon going to be any effective on the field and not to mention the political cost to Dems as well as Republicans in all of these political games? It is fine to give examples of Lincoln waiting for then general McClellan, but to think that it is same today in contemporary 24/7 news cycle is being naive and missing completely how media works and how it can be damaging for America ultimately.

General Petreous's testimony - did that move the public opinion then? American Public was skeptical about the surge after the hearings as well as like how it was before the testimony. President Bush needed Congress to come around his tactics and hence he brought in the General. President Bush moved forward with his surge in any case was the prerogative of Commander in Chief and he exercised that. For President Obama, bringing the General to the Congress does not serve any purpose. That is his prerogative and he would exercise it as he deems fit as Commander in Chief.

As reported, the General himself has provided the menu of 10K, 25K and 40K additional troops in his plan. To assume everything is dependent on whether President Obama sends 40K or 1 less soldier is laughable and childish.

Finally, as this blog post started, what if the General McChrystal is wrong? He can be wrong because, no matter what, it is clear that he concentrated on Afghanistan only and he assumed the end goal as bringing Iraq style state in Afghanistan. What Administration and American people are wondering is - is that the core objective in Afghanistan? Under what conditions Afghanistan can attain such stability? If rooting out terrorism from Pakistan is the pre-condition of any such stability in Afghanistan; why are we putting a cart before horses? General McChrystal's brief was Afghanistan and in a certain sense he only narrowly focused on that problem. General Petreous, as the Centcom chief with overall responsibility of Af-Pak area, is far from pounding the table for 40K more bodies.

What is happening is Conservatives are falling over each other in their Pavlovian instincts for anything that says 'more war'. They seem to know only one weapon in the arsenal and that is the end of the story for them. During the presidential election campaign General Petreous was 'God' for Sen. McCain. Now there is a new addition to his Parthenon - General McChrystal. Oh, don't bother to ask where is his independent mind.

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