Even France’s soccer team at the World Cup seems not as dysfunctional as the administration’s Afghan policy team. President Obama’s confidence in McChrystal may be coming unraveled, but what may be even more important is whether the whole war policy itself is coming unraveled, not that it was very raveled to start with.
The Rolling Stone article revealed not only Gen. McChrystal’s contempt for his civilian superiors but also how badly things are going in the war. We need more of that kind of reporting on what is really happening in this, the longest war in U.S. history, a war that is starting to look more and more like another Vietnam-type fiasco.
The question is not whether one general or another should be replaced but whether the war policy itself makes any sense, based on what is happening on the ground. To answer that question we need the kind of in-depth, careful reporting seen in the excellent PBS Frontline documentary, “Obama’s War.” One of its more memorable segments showed a frustrated American lieutenant unable to persuade Afghan villagers to cooperate with his unit — unable, in other words, to win their “hearts and minds.” The look on his face captured the near-impossibility of this mission, trying to impose American will on people who don’t want us there and who know that we will be gone in a matter of months.
Whatever personnel and policy changes ensue in the aftermath of the McChrystal affair, our news media need to dig deeper into what is really happening in Afghanistan and tell us the truth, so that we don’t sink deeper into this deadly quagmire.