Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, recently said the situation there is serious and growing worse and the United States risks failure unless we send in more troops.
"Although considerable effort and sacrifice have resulted in some progress, many indicators suggest the overall effort is deteriorating. We run the risk of strategic defeat by pursuing tactical wins that cause civilian casualties or unnecessary collateral damage. The insurgents cannot defeat us militarily; but we can defeat ourselves," he wrote.
His statement precisely illustrates why a soldier should not be making foreign policy decisions. It’s all about the military.
From what I’ve read, McChrystal is an excellent soldier. He wants to win the war. That’s his mission, and that’s the problem.
From their first day of basic training, soldiers are trained to win wars. And our soldiers are certainly among the best in the world. If you want to win a war, you want the best.
But is winning a war in Afghanistan really in our best interests?
I don’t remember that we went into Afghanistan to win a war. We went into Afghanistan to capture al-Qaeda terrorists. Now we’ve stumbled into the same quagmire of tribal warlords and religious factions that sucked the life out of the Soviet military in the 1980s.
The solution in Afghanistan is not military. We must not let a military leader decide our course of action. That decision belongs in the hands of civilian foreign policy experts -- not warriors.
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