The McChrystal Crisis: It's An Opportunity Vice A Problem

I’m retired Navy and I am NOT a fan of Obama. But General McChrystal’s behavior and comments would not be accepted if an enlisted man went on record with Rolling Stone and certainly not if a an officer in the middling ranks did such a deed. This is a serious breach of discipline and YES I question the General’s maturity. He has dodged some career ending bullets earlier (i.e., the Pat Tillman episode) but he shouldn’t, for sake of good order and discipline, escape this time. If left on the job by Obama, he will be a political and military eunuch, unable and unwilling to talk straight to the President and yes, get in his face, privately. He has to go. NOW.

However, despite what many are saying, I do not see this as a setback, rather, I see it as an opportunity.  First, let’s be blunt.  We are LOSING the war in Afghanistan and we are doing it on McChrystal’s watch. Second, we need a clear cut definition of victory.  I say it is a somewhat stable Afghanistan that will not threaten its neighbors or the west with violence. Period. That is about the best we can hope for.

Unfortunately, two tightly interwoven things have happened that are fatal to our hopes of “winning”.  The enemy has lost its fear of our armed forces and invariably that means it has also lost respect for the United States and our allies. That is a toxic combination that spells doom for any of our efforts if we allow this to continue.  We have been at war for nine years and we are losing that killer edge.  McChrystal, despite his reputation as a genuine “Bad-ass” is more than just a victim of this physiological shift by our administration, he was an enabler of this process by lending his reputation as a warrior to help the Obama and the civilian military leadership shift us away from what a Military’s main function in a war is: Killing The Bad Guys. The result is an enemy who knows not only what our Rules Of Engagement (ROE) are, but also, more importantly, how to exploit them and use them in turn to intimidate the locals and the Afghan administration. “Haji” has, rightly so, lost his fear of us.

We didn’t win WWII by being liked.  We were still hated by both the Japanese and the Germans after they surrendered.  They surrendered because we were tougher, meaner and deadlier than they were. In the end, we broke their will to fight.  The result was there was no guerilla war (as was feared) in the countryside after WWII, just as there was none after our Civil War.  In that case, the Union not just vanquished the vaunted warrior spirit in the South… the Union crushed it. We must never forget this lesson on how to truly win a war.

The first rule to being a Wartime President (and that is what, whether we like it or not, Obama is) is the willingness to accept casualties on BOTH sides of the Battlefield – especially innocent lives.  A wartime President MUST make the American public not only accept this fact of war, but expect it and understand that this is the price of victory.  If Obama truly wants to win, then he must be brutal, swift and decisive in his use of force.  This is how Americans fight and win wars. Unlike the 19th Century Imperial Powers,  America does not have an extensive history of colonization and subjugation of countries. Nor are we inclined to be patient in our wars. However, if the British were able to wipe out the Thuggee cult in India during the 1800’s,  we should be able to eradicate the Taliban and Al Qaida from Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan.

The solution is one of brutal suppression and killing the members of these two terrorist organizations.  And that means not getting upset when civilians get in the way. Once the word gets out to the Afghanis that the Americans are going to kill these bastards REGARDLESS of any civilians in the area, you will be surprised at how quickly tolerance for having these “thugs” hang around will evaporate.  We must make the civilian population know that if they harbor the Taliban and/or Al Qaida members, that the chances of them getting killed are a lot higher than if they decide to kick these guys out themselves.  We should give up trying to be liked and just settle for being more scary than the Taliban or Al Qaida.  Once the tribes in Afghanistan understand that we will only quit killing if they, the Afghan population, quit tolerating terrorists in their midst, then, and only then, will we see the threat to U.S. interests emanating from this country subside.

They must fear us more than the enemy.  And above all, the enemy must also learn to fear us… again. If you prefer sophistication in your foreign policy, then hang around Harvard, Yale or a cafe on the Champs-Élysées and theorize about it. Above all, don’t get involved in wars.  There is nothing sophisticated about killing your fellow man without mercy.   It is ugly, brutal work that will haunt the men who do it for us to the end of their days.

The removal of McChrystal must be more than a new 4-star taking over the war. It is perhaps the only opportunity we will have during this administration to reassess and insist on a tough, and winning policy. It is up to the Republicans to make this case to the American people and to force Obama act in OUR national interest.  If President Obama continues down the current path he has chosen, all that means is that this war will continue well after he is out of power.