Bird’s-Eye: After a Rolling Stone article (which we have) in which he calls VP Biden “Bite-me” and dismisses Obama’s advisors as “a bunch of wimps”, McChrystal has been removed from command of American troops in Afghanistan. As Znet points out, you don’t get that kind of in-fighting when wars are going well. The UK envoy to Afghanistan has also been recalled for pointing out unpalatable truths, and whoever gets to command the Titanic, the iceberg is still dead ahead. Juan Cole looks at the core Afghani problem: there is no achievable goal worth fighting for.
* On The Ground With The Runaway General Rolling Stone
‘How’d I get screwed into going to this dinner?” demands Gen. Stanley McChrystal. It’s a Thursday night in mid-April, and the commander of all U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan is sitting in a four-star suite at the Hôtel Westminster in Paris. He’s in France to sell his new war strategy to our NATO allies – to keep up the fiction, in essence, that we actually have allies…..”The dinner comes with the position, sir,” says his chief of staff, Col. Charlie Flynn.
McChrystal turns sharply in his chair. “Hey, Charlie,” he asks, “does this come with the position?” McChrystal gives him the middle finger.
* From Great Man to Great Screwup: Behind the McChrystal Uproar by Norman Solomon ZSpace
When the wheels are coming off, it doesn’t do much good to change the driver.
Whatever the name of the commanding general in Afghanistan, the U.S. war effort will continue its carnage and futility.
But the most profound aspects of Rolling Stone’s article “The Runaway General” have little to do with the general. The takeaway is — or should be — that the U.S. war in Afghanistan is an insoluble disaster, while the military rationales that propel it are insatiable. “Instead of beginning to withdraw troops next year, as Obama promised, the military hopes to ramp up its counterinsurgency campaign even further,” the article points out. And “counterinsurgency has succeeded only in creating a never-ending demand for the primary product supplied by the military: perpetual war.”
* UK Special Envoy To Afghanistan Quits The Guardian
Britain’s special envoy to Afghanistan, known for his scepticism about the western war effort and his support for peace talks with the Taliban, has stepped down just a month before a critical international conference in Kabul….Cowper-Coles, a veteran diplomat who has served in Saudi Arabia and Israel, served as ambassador to Kabul between 2007 and 2009. He attracted controversy in 2008 when a leaked French diplomatic cable suggested he had been sharply critical of Karzai and US policy. While insisting Britain should support the US, he was quoted as saying in the Canard Enchaîné: “We should tell them that we want to be part of a winning strategy, not a losing one.”
* McChrystal Drama is Sideshow; Can Obama define a realistic Goal? Juan Cole Informed Comment
Obama cannot expect NATO allies to go on making these sacrifices in a distant, obscure country without obvious strategic importance for Europe and the United States. A Dutch government has already fallen over the issue, and the Canadians have announced an intention to depart.
Obama needs to define an attainable goal in Afghanistan and then execute it swiftly. As it is, when he is pressed about what in the world we are doing there, he retreats into Bushisms: “So I want the American people to understand that we have a clear and focused goal: to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future. That’s the goal that must be achieved.”
Well that isn’t a good enough reason to be in Afghanistan. There is no al-Qaeda to speak of in Afghanistan. And although insurgents and Taliban probably control about 20 percent of the country, they have not let al-Qaeda set up shop in their territory. If they don’t now, when they obviously need all the help they can get, why would they in the future?