Yon has been in and out of Afghanistan for quite some time, and as of October 1st suggests:
“We are losing popular support. Confidence in the Afghan and coalition governments is plummeting. Loss of human terrain is evident. Conditions are building for an avalanche. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the military commander in Afghanistan, and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates are aware of the rumbling, and so today we are bound by rules of engagement that appear insensible.”
…that the situation on the ground seems to be deteriorating.
McChrystal needs an answer soon, and is pushing to get it. He is adapting strategy to win back support of the locals, but he needs more troops to do it in fighting the resurgent Taliban. The Afghan government is very corrupt, and the problems leading to endemic corruption, and which prevent the foundation of a legitimate government are obviously not solved (one wonders if they are soluble as is the growing conventional wisdom, especially by our military). The U.S. vision of democracy, and the work the military (and coalition) has done to fight for its possibility (or at least something beyond a U.S. occupation and rigid Taliban rule) is in serious doubt.
Alternatives to a surge, and critics of escalation in answering McChrystal’s request for a winnable strategy, have apparently not provided good enough alternatives as of now.
Obama is weighing his options, but perhaps needs to show a little more leadership to prevent political fallout.
From Anthony Cordesman at CSIS over a month ago:
“I[n] [sic] the case of Afghanistan, he must either make unpopular and costly decisions to compensate for seven crippling years of underresourcing the war, or risk losing it.”
Also On This Site: From The Washington Post: Andrew Bacevich ‘Let’s Beat the Extremists Like We Beat the Soviets’…From Foreign Policy: ‘Evaluating Progress In Afghanistan-Pakistan’…From The WSJ: Graham, Lieberman and McCain “Only Decisive Force Can Prevail In Afghanistan’…