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

  • As a long-time Senate Committee on Foreign Relation senior professional staff member for the Near East and South Asia, Danielle Pletka was the point person on Middle East, Pakistan, India and Afghanistan issues. As the vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at AEI, Pletka writes on national security matters with a focus on Iran and weapons proliferation, the Middle East, Syria, Israel and the Arab Spring. She also studies and writes about South Asia: Pakistan, India and Afghanistan.


    Pletka is the co-editor of “Dissent and Reform in the Arab World: Empowering Democrats” (AEI Press, 2008) and the co-author of “Containing and Deterring a Nuclear Iran” (AEI Press, 2011) and “Iranian influence in the Levant, Egypt, Iraq, and Afghanistan” (AEI Press, 2012). Her most recent study, “America vs. Iran: The competition for the future of the Middle East,” was published in January 2014.


     


    Follow Danielle Pletka on Twitter.


  • Phone: 202-862-5943
    Email: dpletka@aei.org
  • Assistant Info

    Name: Alexandra Della Rocchetta
    Phone: 202-862-7152
    Email: alex.dellarocchetta@aei.org

What's new on AEI

image The money in banking: Comparing salaries of bank and bank regulatory employees
image What Obama should say about China in Japan
image A key to college success: Involved dads
image China takes the fight to space
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 21
    MON
  • 22
    TUE
  • 23
    WED
  • 24
    THU
  • 25
    FRI
Wednesday, April 23, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Graduation day: How dads’ involvement impacts higher education success

Join a diverse group of panelists — including sociologists, education experts, and students — for a discussion of how public policy and culture can help families lay a firmer foundation for their children’s educational success, and of how the effects of paternal involvement vary by socioeconomic background.

Event Registration is Closed
Thursday, April 24, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Getting it right: A better strategy to defeat al Qaeda

This event will coincide with the release of a new report by AEI’s Mary Habeck, which analyzes why current national security policy is failing to stop the advancement of al Qaeda and its affiliates and what the US can do to develop a successful strategy to defeat this enemy.

Friday, April 25, 2014 | 9:15 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.
Obamacare’s rocky start and uncertain future

During this event, experts with many different views on the ACA will offer their predictions for the future.   

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