By Rich Swier
Paltalk News Network
The academy award winning movie, "Seven Days in May" premiered in 1964. The premise of the movie was that U.S. military leaders were plotting to overthrow the president because he supports a nuclear disarmament treaty and they fear a Soviet sneak attack.
Fast forward to today. We have General David Petraeus; Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and British Army Chief of the General Staff Gen. Sir David Richards publically supporting U.S. General Stanley A. McChrystal because they fear without a "surge" in Afghanistan the war there will be lost. While no general is plotting an overthrow, it appears they are forcing the issue. But why?
Let's take a look at what has happened since President Obama's inauguration. He said on multiple occasions that Afghanistan, "is a war worth fighting". In May he changed the focus of our military away from Iraq to the "good war" in Afghanistan. He hand picked Karl Eikenberry to be our ambassador to Afghanistan and General Stanley A. McChrystal as the U.S./NATO Commander. The Senate overwhelmingly approved both appointments. President Obama immediately increased the number of troops in Afghanistan by 21,000. The strategy of fighting a counterinsurgency while building up the Afghan Army and police forces was in place in June.
Once on the ground General McChrystal made a first hand appraisal of the situation and issued his assessment through the chain-of-command in August to President Obama. The assessment said without more combat forces (estimated at 40,000) the war would be lost. At this point the president and generals parted paths. Why?
General McChrystal's report was leaked to Bob Woodward. Generals (U.S., British, active duty and retired) began going public on the need for additional troops, much to the chagrin of President Obama, General Jones, President Obama's national security adviser, and Congress. The decision on the part of the commander-in-chief was to accept or not accept General McChrystal's proposal. However, with the leak of the report, that decision turned into a test of President Obama's resolve. President Obama's reputation as commander-in-chief was now on the line.
Does this sound like deja vous all over again? This is similar to what President Bush faced when General Petraeus proposed what is now known as "The Iraq War Troop Surge" in 2007. President Bush faced stiff opposition to the surge after losing both houses of Congress in 2006 due primarily to opposition to the War in Iraq. In 2008 President Obama won election based upon his opposition to the surge and the War in Iraq, saying that Bush took his eye off the ball in Afghanistan. So President Obama now faces his first seminal decision as commander-in-chief, a decision which will decide whether the U.S. and NATO will win or lose to those who plotted and executed 9/11.
But President Obama is wavering. Why?
I believe he is wavering because he does not believe Afghanistan is a war at all but rather a police action involving a few Al Qaeda fighters that need to be captured or killed. He does not view Afghanistan in the way our enemies view it, as one front in a global war against the West. His closest national security advisers, Vice President Biden and General Jones, believe Afghanistan can be fought and won by special operating forces and drones. What is amazing is General McChrystal made his reputation in Iraq by deploying Special Operating forces to kill Al Qaeda operatives including Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq. However, General McChrystal also knows that killing or capturing Al Qaeda is not enough. General McChrystal knows that to win U.S. and NATO forces must go into the local villages, with a professional and trusted Afghan Army and police force, to provide long term security and stability to the Afghan people. Military force alone will not win. A political solution as happened in Iraq will.
This is the President's dilemma. Listen to his hand picked field commander or his Vice President. I would go with the field commander, hands down.
Rich Swier is a 23-year Army veteran who retired as a lieutenant colonel in 1990. He was awarded the Legion of Merit for his years of service. Additionally, he was awarded the Bronze Star with “V” for Heroism in ground combat, the Presidential Unit Citation and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry while serving with the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam. He is president of the Sarasota County (FL) Veterans Commission, an honorary member of the BRAIVE Fund and has been elected chairman of the Sarasota National Cemetery Advisory Committee. Rich is the publisher of Red County – Florida and editor of Red County – Sarasota, www.redcounty.com, an internationally read website dedicated to center right grassroots commentary, news and politics.