Thursday, October 8, 2009

No time for half-measures

I have no qualifications as a military strategist. I have never fired a shot in anger, or stared down at a jihadi through the peep on my M4. I will likely never know what it is to march miles through hostile territory with only the rifle in your hands, the pistol on your hip, and the training you share with your buddies to protect you.

Nevertheless, it does seem obvious to me that Gen. McChrystal's request for more troops should be honored. Now that our brave soldiers have defeated Al-Qaeda in Iraq and the front has shifted to Afghanistan, if the general says he needs more troops to win, I think he should get them. After all, Stanley McChrystal is hardly George McClellan-he fights and wins counterinsurgencies when he has the resources he needs, having just come off doing so in Iraq. And yet, the delays and stalling continue.

Meanwhile, the president continues to do his best Solomonic split the baby routine. He can't send more troops without infuriating the Left, who have already had to face up to the reality that his rhetoric about closing Gitmo, no more wars, and universal health care were mostly just that. All hat and no cattle as they say. So to have to swallow expanding a war the Left hates would simply be a bridge to far. When the Left is all he has left, Obama can hardly burn them again. On the other hand, Americans don't like to lose wars nor do they kindly remember presidents who do. Who looks back fondly on that old liberal pioneer of "the Great Society", Pres. Johson? ("Hey, hey, LBJ..."). So he can't very well deny a successful general his request, lest he be blamed for the inevitable defeat. Yet what he seems not to remember is that Solomon's strategy was just that: a strategy for identifying the real mother of the child, not a serious policy. Actually splitting the baby wouldn't have been wise, but disastrous, in the same way that giving McChrystal less than he is asking for will simply mean that more brave men will needlessly die .

Mr. President, it may be distasteful, but the time for splitting the difference is over. It might work as a campaign strategy, but it's a terrible idea for actual governance. It may be hard to jump all the way over the chasm, but suggesting we can safely jump halfway is pure foolishness masquerading as prudence.

1 comment:

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

This is a good reason why I think a qualification for the presidency is to be a military veteran - that way you have at least a wee bit of understanding what it is the military does!