Obama & the Pentagon

I have to say, I’m very skeptical of Sy Hersh’s claim of widespread racism against the president in the upper ranks of the military.  Are there racists in the uniformed services?  Of course there are, but no more so than in the general population; probably less, I would think.  And given how quickly your military career can come to a screeching halt if you are even suspected of racist attitudes, I have a hard time imagining some kind of bigoted cabal of generals and admirals at the Pentagon.  Having said that, it’s clear that there is a battle of wills going on, at least between Obama and Gen. McChrystal, over the future of America’s military commitment in Afghanistan, and it’s escalated to the point where McChrystal may have even leaked classified information.  My personal view is that we cannot abandon Afghanistan, if for no other reason than that of brutal self-interest; if Afghanistan collapses into warlord anarchy or a new Taliban dictatorship, it will once more be a breeding ground for the likes of Osama bin Laden, not to mention a destabilizing influence on Pakistan, with its brittle democracy, paranoid military, compromised intelligence service and nuclear weapons.

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. My worry is that we’re devoting a disproportionate amount of resources on Afghanistan when the real action is in Pakistan. Even the Pentagon has said that there are probably fewer than 100 al Qaeda members still left in Afghanistan. I think we conflate al Qaeda and the Taliban at great risk.

    As a country, we’ve never been particularly good at nation building, especially lately. We’ve spent a trillion dollars in Iraq, and it’s significantly worse off than when we got there. The difficulties in Afghanistan are, I fear, worse than those in Iraq by several orders of magnitude. Can we afford to spend another trillion dollars or more on a project with only a very slim chance of suucess? I don’t think we can, with the economy in its current straits.

  2. I don’t disagree, but there’s a limit to what we can do in Pakistan. They are already pissed over our use of drones to hit extemist leaders in their territory and for suggesting that we might like some proof they aren’t just wasting all the aid we’re giving them (or laundering it for extremists). And even assuming the Pakistanis drive the Islamists out (a very debatable proposition), it won’t do them any good if they can just regroup right over the border.

  3. Oh yeah, I didn’t mean to imply that it would all be as simple as just transferring the capital and human resources from Afghanistan to Pakistan.

    I think the sooner that we, as a country, figure out that not every single problem in the world can and should be met with an American solution, the better off we (and the rest of the world, for that matter) will ultimately be.


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