The Effects of the Change in Command

Featured in the many sorry tales of American adventures in Afghanistan there is a regular protagonist: the swashbuckler. He is the military special forces guy or the CIA spy. He is the man who believes that he has the keys to Kandahar, that his cleverly distributed $20 million, his special political relationships and his understanding of Pakistani interests will enable the United States to slide gracefully away. In too many ways, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, special forces vet, was another in a long series of such men in Afghanistan.

U.S. strategy will doubtless change in the coming months--because it was headed for failure. Too many in command--and too many advising them--believed that counterinsurgency strategy would not require clearing terrorists and establishing security first and foremost. Instead, they were obsessed with the intricacies of the Karzai family and details about corruption. Finally, even as professional and competent a general as David Petraeus cannot succeed if the president continues to tolerate the Shakespearean drama that is Washington Afghan policy. Special envoy Richard Holbrooke connives to undercut the military command; Ambassador Karl Eikenberry won't talk to International Security and Assistance Force leaders and connives to discredit his opponents at the Pentagon. Both should go because they have put politics above the mission and ego above all. Without them, and with a new command and a president committed to a serious, drama-free policy, we can begin down the road to victory in Afghanistan.

Danielle Pletka is the vice president of foreign and defense policy studies at AEI.

Photo Credit: Department of Defense photo by Staff Sgt. Bradley A. Lail, U.S. Air Force

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine
About the Author

 

Danielle
Pletka

What's new on AEI

AEI Election Watch 2014: What will happen and why it matters
image A nation divided by marriage
image Teaching reform
image Socialist party pushing $20 minimum wage defends $13-an-hour job listing
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 27
    MON
  • 28
    TUE
  • 29
    WED
  • 30
    THU
  • 31
    FRI
Monday, October 27, 2014 | 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
State income taxes and the Supreme Court: Maryland Comptroller v. Wynne

Please join AEI for a panel discussion exploring these and other questions about this crucial case.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014 | 9:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
For richer, for poorer: How family structures economic success in America

Join Lerman, Wilcox, and a group of distinguished scholars and commentators for the release of Lerman and Wilcox’s report, which examines the relationships among and policy implications of marriage, family structure, and economic success in America.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014 | 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
The 7 deadly virtues: 18 conservative writers on why the virtuous life is funny as hell

Please join AEI for a book forum moderated by Last and featuring five of these leading conservative voices. By the time the forum is over, attendees may be on their way to discovering an entirely different — and better — moral universe.

Thursday, October 30, 2014 | 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
A nuclear deal with Iran? Weighing the possibilities

Join us, as experts discuss their predictions for whether the United States will strike a nuclear deal with Iran ahead of the November 24 deadline, and the repercussions of the possible outcomes.

Thursday, October 30, 2014 | 5:00 p.m. – 6:15 p.m.
The forgotten depression — 1921: The crash that cured itself

Please join Author James Grant and AEI senior economists for a discussion about Grant's book, "The Forgotten Depression: 1921: The Crash That Cured Itself" (Simon & Schuster, 2014).

No events scheduled today.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.