In the wake of another attempt this morning to fight modern life in Afghanistan — 160 girls were poisoned at a north Afghan school, the second such incident in a week — the conflict there is a telling example of failure, and the dodge-ball concept of leadership.
Not only is Afghanistan been considered “the graveyard of empires,” it’s a big cemetery for assholes.
The latest to high-tail out of country is George Jr.’s former lap-buddy, Ryan Crocker, the so-called ‘ambassador,’ who’s been on the job for less than a year.
(Illustration found here).
Also leaving are Gen. John Allen, head honcho of the Afghan theater, along Cameron Munter, U.S. ambassador to Pakistan — Allen has been on the job only eight months.
Spencer Ackerman at Wired explains the failure is from the top down:
But even with the next year’s worth of troop reductions and the slow transition to Afghan control, Afghanistan is the U.S.’ largest active battlefield, and the turbulence at the top has impacted the way the war is waged.
McKiernan didn’t buy into counterinsurgency with sufficient vigor for ex-Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ tastes. McChrystal really bought into it, and shifted operations and tactics accordingly.
Petraeus reversed McChrystal’s restrictions on air power and fought with surprising tactical intensity.
Allen all but abandoned counterinsurgency and refocused on training Afghans to smooth the pullout.
All this occurred in under four years.
When historians assess why the Afghanistan war underperformed, the frequent command shifts may prove to be a factor.
And all this coming-and-going appears in the face of growing tensions between the US and Pakistan, who’s support in this failed exercise in Afghanistan is near-about required.
In fact: Tensions between Islamabad and Washington again came to a boil on Monday, when Pakistan’s head of intelligence abruptly canceled high-level talks with the CIA. (The Hill)
The problems are enormous — Pakistan has closed the vital supply route after a blunder last December by US aircraft in killing a mob of Pakistani troops.
Regular Pakistanis don’t want the route re-opened — huge protests were held Friday in the port city of Karachi against the move.
Politics as people die.
Kelley B. Vlahos at antiwar.com digs deeper in Crocker’s demise:
Yet the administration has continued to put the magnitude of its resources and focus on the military side of the equation and the results have been dim.
Not only has the so-called civilian surge been a flop (read: Matthew Hoh’s troubling account of his own short time on the civilian side in Afghanistan), but envoys and ambassadors have left at a similarly remarkable rate as the generals, which should indicate to anyone left who is interested that this adventure in Afghanistan is failing all around, and no amount of lionizing press or fancy speeches by Obama or Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (who has been curiously disconnected from the Afghanistan piece of her massive portfolio from the get-go) is going to rectify it.
Turns out Crocker was just one in a line of diplomats who were put into a mission that was designed to fail, where professional legacies and even personal stamina appeared to wither over time against the perfidious Hamid Karzai, the labyrinth of Kabul’s corruption and always having to take the child’s seat at the military’s table.
The whole shitload of a failure has prompted US military veterans last week to toss their medals, but the action won’t do much.
Explains Adrian Lewis, a professor specializing in 20th century warfare at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Afghanistan ain’t Vietnam:
Unlike the Vietnam War, Americans today don’t have the same outrage over the current conflicts, Lewis said.
“Most Americans are not paying attention to the war … they have no stake in it, no commitment to it,” he added, noting that he therefore didn’t expect the veterans’ medal protest to “be a big deal.
It’s not a game-changer.”
Grave stones, though, are a game changer.