Frank Rich: You People Will Cause The Already Failed Afghan Surge To Fail
I haven’t posted about Count Frankula in a while. Frank Rich’s latest column, How Fox Betrayed Petraeus, is stuffed full of Rich’s usual “people who don’t agree with me are crazy and dangerous” filling.
Frank’s point apparently is that opposition to the Cordoba mosque and Islamic center being built in the planned location has undercut General David Petraeus’s surge strategy in Afghanistan, and doomed the war to failure (emphasis mine):
Here’s what’s been lost in all the screaming. The prime movers in the campaign against the “ground zero mosque” just happen to be among the last cheerleaders for America’s nine-year war in Afghanistan. The wrecking ball they’re wielding is not merely pounding Park51, as the project is known, but is demolishing America’s already frail support for that war, which is dedicated to nation-building in a nation whose most conspicuous asset besides opium is actual mosques.
It is, of course, interesting that Rich now claims that opposition to the Cordoba mosque is what will cause the surge to fail and the war to be lost.
Because in October 2009, Rich predicted that an Iraq-style surge (which Rich also opposed) would not work in Afghanistan and the war would be lost:
Afghanistan is not Iraq. It is poorer, even larger and more populous, more fragmented and less historically susceptible to foreign intervention. Even if the countries were interchangeable, the wars are not. No one-size surge fits all. President Bush sent the additional troops to Iraq only after Sunni leaders in Anbar Province soured on Al Qaeda and reached out for American support. There is no equivalent “Anbar Awakening” in Afghanistan.
And again in December 2009, Rich declared the nascent surge a failure and the war already lost after Obama announced his new Afghanistan policy (emphasis mine):
AFTER the dramatic three-month buildup, you’d think that Barack Obama’s speech announcing his policy for Afghanistan would be the most significant news story of the moment. History may take a different view. When we look back at this turning point in America’s longest war, we may discover that a relatively trivial White House incident, the gate-crashing by a couple of fame-seeking bozos, was the more telling omen of what was to come.
Obama’s speech, for all its thoughtfulness and sporadic eloquence, was a failure at its central mission. On its own terms, as both policy and rhetoric, it didn’t make the case for escalating our involvement in Afghanistan. It’s doubtful that the president’s words moved the needle of public opinion wildly in any direction for a country that has tuned out Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq alike while panicking about where the next job is coming from…
What he’s ended up with is a too-clever-by-half pushmi-pullyu holding action that lacks both a credible exit strategy and the commitment of its two most essential partners, a legitimate Afghan government and the American people. Obama’s failure illuminated the limits of even his great powers of reason.
On July 31, just three weeks ago, Rich even wrote a column titled Kiss This War Goodbye, arguing that the leak of tens of thousands of classified files by WikiLeak’s was a Pentagon Papers-like turning point in Afghanistan, sigaling that the war was lost.
So if I understand Rich’s current column correctly, the surge which Rich declared in October 2009 could not work in Afghanistan, which Rich declared had failed by December 2009, and the war that Rich kissed-off just three weeks ago, really would have worked out for us if not for the wingnuts who object to the location of the Cordoba mosque and Islamic Center.
Am I crazy and dangerous for pointing out Rich’s intellectual laziness and predictability?
[Note to readers: With this post I commence a Frank Rich tag, an honor previously bestowed upon Rich’s colleague, Paul Krugman)(still no MoDo tag, but give me time)]
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Intellectual laziness and predictability? Say it isn't so! hahaha
Perhaps he is angling for a byline at the Korean Central News Agency of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
As a man who makes a living demonizing, and pretending to be outraged by, those with viewpoints he disagrees with, it is shameful that Count Frankula waited until the third paragraph to work the word Islamaphobia into his column.
And he didn't call those who oppose the mosque's proposed location a bigot even once. That's outrageous!
I do my best to avoid reading Frank Rich, but whatever his argument in this case about Afghanistan, I find myself on the same side of the fence, as I wrote last month in Why Petraeus won't matter."
There is a strategic vacuum at the top of the national command authority (coff, White House, coff) and just sliding Petraeus and Mattis into their new commands won't solve it. If I may cite myself:
***They will fail because COIN is a tactic, not a strategic objective, and the United States has no strategic objectives regarding Afghanistan. The generals will be conducting COIN for COIN's own sake, not really to achieve something else. As far any anyone can tell, President Obama's only national objective regarding Afghanistan is to pull American forces out by the end of next year. That's not a strategic objective. It's an admission of aimlessness.***
I am just as unlikely to agree with VP Biden on anything as I am with Rich, but again, I think he has a better handle on what we need to do in Afghanistan than his boss. Here is what Bide said early this month:
***"We are in Afghanistan for one express purpose: Al Qaeda,” he said. “Al Qaeda exists in those mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan. We are not there to nation-build. We’re not out there deciding we’re going to turn this into a Jeffersonian democracy and build that country.”***
Quashing the Taliban and al Qaeda requires killing as many of them as possible. On the other, it won't be possible to kill them all. At what point they will be unable to continue is very difficult to ascertain.
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