Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Obama and McChrystal Need to Watch "The Wire"

President Obama and General McChrystal should schedule a few evenings to sit down and watch a few episodes--or seasons--of The Wire. They would learn that killing drug lords--or warlords--is only a temporary solution. Every time you capture or kill an Avon Barksdale, Stringer Bell will take his place, and Proposition Joe, and Marlo Standfield after them.
Like the Baltimore "po-lice" we can keep treading water in Afghanistan, going after the top 50 drug kingpins and tribal leaders, but they will always be replaced by other ambitious and talented leaders driven by anger, violence, and need. Sure, sometimes the succession can get bloody, and we will cheer and even help out as different sides battle each other, but nothing will change without a long term plan.
The United States, like Baltimore, has to make a strategic choice. The best solution in the long run is to pump lots of outside money in (from the United States/the state of Maryland) and improve conditions for the population to the point that conditions are no longer ripe for drug trafficking, violence, and terrorism.
Alternatively you can define more limited goals, like the reduction of the crime and violence that goes along with drug trafficking, and reducing the negative impact on the surrounding community. In Season 3 Major Bunny Colvin set up "Hamsterdam" in his district, a free zone where drug dealers and users could go without penalty, greatly reducing crime and violence in the rest of the community. I'm not suggesting that the United States should allow Afghanistan to collapse into a den of drugs and terrorism, since the goal of both those activities is to spread worldwide. I'm simply saying that limited objectives can also be successful if they are clearly defined and the trade-offs are acknowledged.
Invading Afghanistan accomplished its initial goals--the terrorist leaders are no longer in Afghanistan, they are in Pakistan, and could soon flee to Somalia, Yemen, or other "ungoverned spaces." We have to make a strategic choice in Afghanistan and decide if we are trying to make it into a Central Asian Valhalla, or if we should adopt more limited goals.

1 comment:

  1. The story of this show is very interesting. Its not like other police shows in which cases are closed in one episodes, but in The Wire tv show a single case investigation is done among many episodes.