"When Barak Obama entered the Oval Office, he immediately set out to deliver on his most important campaign promise on foreign policy: to refocus the war in Afghanistan on what led us to invade in the first place. "I want the American people to understand," he announced in March 2009. "We have a clear and focused goal: to disrupt, dismantle and defeat Al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan." He ordered another 21,000 troops to Kabul, the largest increase since the war began in 2001. Taking the advice of both the Pentagon and the Joint Cheifs of Staff, he also fired General David McChrystal -- then the US and NATO commander in Afghanistan -- and replace him with a man he did not know and had met only briefly. General Stanely McChrystal. It was the first time a top general had been relieved from duty during wartime in more than 50 years, since Harry Truman fired General Douglas McCarthur at the height of the Korean War. Even though he had voted for Obama, McCrystal and his new commander in chief failed from the outset to connect. The general first encountered Obama a week after he took office, when the President met with a dozen senior military officials in a room at the Pentagon knonw as the Tank. According to scources familiar with the meeting, McCrystal thought Obama looked "uncomfortable and intimidated" by the roomful of military brass. Their first one-on-one meeting took place in the Oval Office four months later, after McCrystal got the Afghanistan job, and it did not go much better. "It was a 10-minute phot op," says an advisor to McCrystal. "Obama clearly did not know anything about him, who he was. Here is the guy who is going to run his Fu**ing war, but he did not seem very engaged. The Boss was pretty disappointed."
"From the start, McChrystal was determined to place his personal stamp on Afghanistan, to use it as as laboratory for a controversial military strategy known as counterinsurgency. COIN, as the theory is known, is the new gospel of the Pentagon brass, a doctrine that attempts to square the military's preference for high tech violence with the demands of fighting a protracted wars in failed states. COIN calls for sending huge numbers of ground troops to not only destroy the enemy, but to live among the civilian population and slowly rebuild, or build from scratch, another nations government -- a process that even its staunchest advocates admit requires years, if not decades, to achieve.......After arriving in Afghanistan last June, the general counducted his own policy review, ordered up by Defense Secretary Robert Gates. The now infamous report was leaked to the press, and its conclusion was dire. If we did not send another 40,000 troops -- swelling the number of US forces in Afghanistan by nearly half -- we were in danger of "mission failure". The White House was furious. McCrystal, they felt, was trying to bully Obama, opening him up to charges of being weak on national security issues he did what the general wanted. It was Obama versus the Pentagon, and the Pentagon was determined to kick the president's arse."
"Last fall, with his top general calling for more troops, Obama launched a 3 month review to re-evaluate the stategy in Afghanistan. "I found that time painful," McCrystal tells me in one of several lengthy interveiws. "I was selling an unsellable position." For the general, it was a crash course in Beltway politics -- a battle that pitted him against experienced Washington insiders like Vice President Biden, who argued that a prolonged counterinsurgency campaign in Afghanistan would plunge America into a military quagmire without weakening international terrorists networks. "The entire COIN strategy is a fraud perpetuated on the American people," says Douglas Macgregor, a retired colonel and leading critic of COIN who attended West Point with McCrystal. "The idea that we are going to spend a trillion dollars to reshape the culture of the Islamic world is utter nonsenes." In the end, however, McCrystal got almost exactly what he wanted. On December 1rst, in a speech at West Point, the president laid out all the resons why fighting the war in Afghanistan is a bad idea; It's expensive, we are in an economic crisis, a decade long commitment would sap American power. Al Qaeda has shifted its base of operations to Pakistan. Then, without ever using the words "victory" or "win", Obama announced that he would send another 30,000 troops to Afghanistan, almost as many as McCrystal had requested. The president had thrown his weight, however, hesitantly, behind the counterinsurgency crowd."
....."The Presidentt finds himself stuck in something even more insane than a quagmire, a quagmire he knowingly walked into, enen though it is precisely the kind of gigantic, mind-numbning, multigenerational nation-building project he explicitly said he did not want."
So here we go again. Where is the leadership? Where is the vision? What is the mission? If President Obama is sold on COIN, then McCrystal is his man. However, if he is not, why is he still in charge in Afghanistan? Then again, how can you keep a man in such a position that has such a loose tongue and apparent lack of respect for the Presidents abililty to be commander in cheif?