THE PLANK OCTOBER 29, 2009
The middle can be an awkward place. NRO's Cliff May attended a RAND conference on Afghanistan and didn't like what he heard from the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman:
I stayed on to hear Sen. Carl Levin. He argued that in Afghanistan a “change in strategy is essential and more important than force levels.” His implication: We can have a change in strategy without increasing force levels.
The new strategy we’re talking about is COIN — counterinsurgency. It is a strategy that Senator Levin opposed in Iraq, a point he neglected to mention....
The fundamentals of COIN are clear, hold, and build. Clear out the bad guys, hold the territory, and build on that success by creating basic governing institutions, a little economic development, and adequate self-defense. For Levin to suggest this mission can be accomplished with fewer troops than the president’s commanders in the field believe they need has to be seen as ignorant, disingenuous, irresponsible — or some combination thereof.
Once he's done ripping Levin for his squishiness, May recounts this moment:
When the senator finished speaking, the first to come to the microphone to ask a question was Medea Benjamin of Code Pink asking why Senator Levin was not calling for an immediate withdrawal.
Sometimes you just can't win.