Foreign Policy Blogs

The General's Report Crystalizes

It’s Out.  The Cat and Gen. McChrystal’s Afghan Strategy and Resource Recommendations to President Obama.  While I safely got my cat Chuck back into the house, the Obama administration cannot put McChrystal’s report, which calls for thousands of more troops or the US mission in Afghanistan “will likely result in failure”, back in its envelope.  Here’s where you can find a link to the report.


The manner in which the officially classified report was leaked is of interest as the Washington Post (whose legendary reporter Bob Woodward got the scoop) had an accompanying article discussing the topic.  In that report was some interesting quotes from an unnamed Pentagon official.  Here is the money quote:

“But Obama’s deliberative pace — he has held only one meeting of his top national security advisers to discuss McChrystal’s report so far — is a source of growing consternation within the military. “Either accept the assessment or correct it, or let’s have a discussion,” one Pentagon official said. “Will you read it and tell us what you think?” Within the military, this official said, “there is a frustration. A significant frustration. A serious frustration.”

First off, it’s unfortunate that yet another classified intelligence or military report was leaked, as it seems harder and harder to keep anything secret nowadays in our American democracy, even things (I’m thinking mainly about the CIA here) that may really come back to hurt our national security.  Though the contents of McChrystal’s report have been circulating through various sources (JCS Mullen, editorials by the report’s authors, etc.) and it seemed that everyone was already getting ready for a request for more troops, this very public outing puts tremendous pressure on the Obama administration to choose a strategy and then start resourcing it accordingly.  Obama was consistent in discussing his views on the subject during his Sunday media blitz; He wants to get the right Strategy chosen before deciding on sending more troops.

While I definitely agree with this assessment and hope the US Commander in Chief is pragmatically evaluating many views and policy possibilities on this important and complicated national security issue, it must be said that the President has had McChrystal’s report before him since August 30th.  This report by McChrystal is a Strategy, one that calls for an increase in resources quickly or else failure may be imminent.  If the McChrystal assessment is correct, time is indeed of the essence, and the Obama administration will need to come up with a plan to follow sooner rather than later.

The Obama administration has been hard at work denoting qualitative and quantitative metrics for progress in the war and a high Pentagon official and Obama appointee has already fought back stating that McChrystal’s report is just one input, an important one at that for sure, but just one, in a series of inputs in the President’s decision making apparatus.  But critical decisions need to be made and the President is going to need to explain these decisions to an anxious public.

  • Lastly, I would like recommend a thoughtful piece by FPA’s own Marco Vicenzino regarding the recent deaths of several Italian soldiers and subsequent calls for withdrawal by Italy’s government.  Marco rightly criticizes this development stating: “This only embolden the determination and radical agenda of the insurgents who seek to remove the international presence in Afghanistan and restore their tyranny and oppression which lasted from 1996 to 2001.”