The Corner

For a ‘Dumb’ Afghanistan Strategy

At this point, Obama needs to settle for a “dumb” Afghan strategy. He’s clearly trying to be too cute and clever, and micro-managing aspects of the military campaign that are beneath his pay-grade. If he believes success in Afghanistan is important and a counter-insurgency campaign is the best way to achieve it, he should give McChrystal the troops he says he needs (actually, he should probably give him more if possible, to reduce the risk of failure). This business of examining the troop numbers province-by-province, and devising various “off ramps,” and parsing out what troop commitment will best pressure Karzai is a foolish attempt at an impossible exactitude. No plan so finely tuned from on high is going to survive its first contact with reality. Obama needs a “dumb” approach — figure out the basic strategy, resource it, and leave it at that. If it’s a successful strategy, most of the other things will probably follow — the off ramps, the welcome effect on Karzai, etc. This is not to say the implementation of the strategy shouldn’t be savvy and adaptive. But that’s for his generals. Obama just needs to make the simple — if not easy — decision and provide the political leadership to back it up. The world is waiting.