Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Planning to Fail Win in Afghanistan, pt 8: Independence Day Redux

In this picture, president Bill Pullman is having a good Independence Day.

Barack Obama is also going to have a good Independence Day, this year.

As critical as I've been of president Obama's policies in Afghanistan recently, appointing General Petraeus to take command in Afghanistan could be just the policy shake up - assuming that's not the only change that's being made - to change course and secure, if not a win, at least a "loose good" scenario that minimizes the chances that we'll have to rerun this particular episode of Pashtunwalli and Co.

If two changes follow in the coming days; publicly backing away from July 2011 and letting Petraeus hand pick the diplomatic team (better yet, bring in Ryan Crocker); then this move could really pay off in a longer term.

Let's see, however, how Petraeus deals with Pakistan. The good general has a reputation of being a amiable guy and with a great sense for PR - I found him to be both a great public speaker and legitimately funny guy when I saw him speak last year - but he's also a stone cold soldier, and his surge in Iraq included both "soft" elements of population security and hard core kinetics, like tracking down and killing AQI and Iranian special groups operating inside Iraq. So it'll be interesting to see how Petraeus might handle Pakistani or Iranian assets he catches in country - I'd not want to cross the border if I were a soldier in either of those countries armies right now, BTW.

As for Obama's handling of the situation, well, let's just say that this is why I don't (yet) regret my vote. Today, if only for a few minutes, Obama was the commander and chief. He took care of the McChrystal situation as quickly, gracefully and decisively as possible and he managed to do it all while avoiding asking any questions to which he should have already known the answer.

All and all, this was a good day for Obama's presidency and for the future of America's military operations in Afghanistan. I'm more optimistic about the situation then I've been in a while.  

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