Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Man... A Plan?

As more information comes out about how and why General McChrystal is replacing General McKiernan more and more news outlets are talking about how this is replacing the old "conventional" wing of the military with the new "unconventional" wing. I'm all for that. But some people seem to be reading too much into the change. Fred Kaplan's article declaring that the change truly stamps Afghanistan as "Obama's War" states that:
McKiernan's ouster signals a dramatic shift in U.S. strategy for the war in Afghanistan. And it means that the war is now, unequivocally, "Obama's war." The president has decided to set a new course, not merely to muddle through the next six months or so.
What is the dramatic shift in strategy? What IS the new strategy? 
Just saying "he's an expert in counterinsurgency" does not constitute a policy change. Counterinsurgency is not a once size fits all strategy or policy, any more than saying "Surge" is a strategy or policy. All the President's reviews and advisors may have identified the problems fairly well (although with the recent events in Pakistan the reviews may be a little outdated), but I have yet to hear details of a specific plan much more detailed than actually paying attention to Afghanistan.
Putting McChrystal in charge is a welcome change, but he is not a silver bullet or a one man plan. President Obama's civilian and military advisors on South Asia need to hold up their end of the bargain and come up with a real strategy, or else McChrystal will be forced out as another scapegoat next year. 

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