Gen. Stanley McChrystal was a very winning figure during his appearance last night on 60 Minutes. He is obviously a knowledgeable military man. But his understanding of Afghanistan looked particularly frail from some of his side comments, e.g. we need merely establish a 400,000 Afghan  army and then we can exit. How such an army is to be created in a country governed by the elders of some 50,000 disunited and constantly competing/conflicting villages and war lords is a large question indeed — the stuff of civil war is built into that suggestion. No one has ever conquered or unified Afghanistan from without. And I doubt very much that the Afghans want to be ruled by an army constructed by us. By all reports Karzai’s governing figures are totally corrupt. We are going to make them virtuous? If you believe that, we have a very nice bridge to sell you here in NYC.

Yes, we should stop killing innocent Afghans from on high. But one can scarcely see how even hundreds of thousands of additional American troops would be able to occupy and subdue the complex geography of this country with its hiding places and escape roots for enemies legion and our capacity to distinguish friends from enemies there virtually nil. Karzai is manifestly a fraud with a brother allegedly heavily into the opium trade. He is not exactly a beloved and admired ruler who may or may not have been elected, depending on which ballots one chooses to take seriously. What an ally who, incidentally, is an admirer along with Hugo Chavez of Iran’s Ahmadinejad! I doubt that the typical Afghan sees him as anything more than our appointed stooge.

I hope that Obama will not let our good generals push him into a military commitment which will manifestly not work for this disparate people traditionally rebellious against illegitimate authorities. Enough good people have been killed there already — ours and theirs.

What do you think?

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent 212-665-8535 (voice mail only) [blind copies]

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