Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Why George Will is right and Gen. McChrystal isn't

George Will recently wrote a piece wishing us out of Afghanistan. At the same time, General McChrystal was requesting at least 40,000 more troops so we can “nation-build” in Afghanistan.

National Review’s Andrew C. McCarthy, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute and the author of Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad (Encounter Books, 2008), wrote this insightful article stating why McChrystal’s strategy will not work, and why the United States first needs to understand that we are fighting Islamic doctrine around the world, not just Jihadists in Afghanistan. We will continue wasting our resources and failing in our mission until we realize that.

Excerpts are below; read the entire article here.

“This process” [recommended by General McChrystal] is the gargantuan burden of building, from scratch, an oxymoronic sharia-democracy in a backwards, corrupt, fundamentalist Islamic armpit. And as if we’d learned nothing from the ravages against us, the process absurdly assumes that Islam — rather than being a major part of the problem — is an asset that we can turn to our advantage. If such a process could work (it can’t), it would take decades, cost hundreds of billions of dollars, and cause an unknowable number of American casualties.

But that is the McChrystal plan. The idea is not to defeat the Taliban and al-Qaeda but to build a modern nation-state that will eventually be both competent to fight and interested in fighting the Taliban and al-Qaeda on its own.

Here is the irony. Those who favor McChrystal’s proposal argue, with great force, that a counterterrorism strategy — i.e., attacking terror nests from remote bases — cannot work. For that conclusion, they cite no less an authority than General McChrystal, who is the nation’s leading expert on military counterterrorism. But if “cannot work” is our criterion, then why would anyone favor a democracy-building effort in Afghanistan?

The real dirty little secret is that there is only one way to win the war, and that is to attack our militant enemies and their abettors globally. This being the case, our unwillingness to do that necessarily means anything else we try “cannot work.” We have taken real victory off the table. What is left is a series of “cannot work” options, and our burden is to pick the least bad one.

So can we go back to what is best in us, forthrightness, and stop talking about “victory”? Those who favor the McChrystal plan should be prepared to tell us how many lives, years, and hundreds of billions they are prepared to sacrifice on an experiment in Afghan democracy building that will not defeat our global enemies — and, in fact, will discourage the pursuit of our global enemies since, under our new doctrine, we can’t unleash American might without making a similar sacrifice wherever we go.

The question is not whether counterterrorism can work. It cannot — any more than having a police station a hundred miles away could guarantee that the local bank would never be robbed. The question is why we should think nation-building — the equivalent of lavish government welfare programs to address the “root causes” of bank robbery — is a better solution.

No comments: