US General Stanley McChrystal [pictured] has paid a huge price for his decision to give Rolling Stone reporter Michael Hastings free access to himself and his staff. But he performed a great service for the rest of us.
McChrystal forced the rest of us to contend with the unpleasant truth...
Hastings’ now famous article, “The Runaway General,” told the story of an argument. On the one hand, there are people who want to fight to win in Afghanistan. On the other hand, there are people who are not interested in fighting to win in Afghanistan. Obama – and McChrystal as his general – occupy the untenable middle ground. There they try to split the difference between the two irreconcilable camps. The inevitable end is preordained. [A]s NATO forces depart, the Taliban will return to power in a blaze of glory marching hand in hand with Al-Qaida.
[T]his sort of “half pregnant” strategy for war fighting has been the template for Western armies.
The US and its NATO allies first deployed in Afghanistan in October 2001 with the aim of toppling the Taliban regime and destroying Al-Qaida’s infrastructure in the country. They have remained in the country ever since with the goal of preventing the Taliban from returning to power.
In recent months Obama and his advisers have repeatedly attacked Afghan President Hamid Karzai for his problematic positions on the Taliban. But their criticism is unfair. They cannot expect loyalty from a man America is set to abandon in a year. It is up to Karzai and his fellow Afghans to cut deals with the Taliban while they still have something to bargain with.
[T]he US is repeating a sorry pattern of Western nations of not understanding – or perhaps not caring -- that if you are not willing to fight a war to victory, you will lose it.
To win, all the Taliban needs to do is survive. Once NATO is gone, like Hizbullah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza, the Taliban will be crowned the victors and from their failed state, they will be able to again attack the US and its allies.
[B]y effectively committing career suicide, McChrystal has posed a challenge to his country – and to the Western world as a whole. The Western way of war needn’t remain the path of defeat. That, still, is for the people of the West to decide.