McChrystal

Created by Ben Bernstein, Noah Kristula-Green, Julie Sobel, and Barron YoungSmith (Click here to see a full-sized version of the matrix.) 1. Howard Dean: The former DNC chairman, who opposed the war in Iraq, is an Afghanistan hawk for national security and humanitarian (women's rights) reasons. He believes that "we can win this war militarily." 2. Bruce Riedel: The Brookings fellow, who coordinated the Obama administration's initial review of Afghanistan policy, supports a robust counterinsurgency.

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President Obama faces an enormous political challenge in figuring out how to respond to General Stanley McChrystal's request for more soldiers in Afghanistan. One the one hand, resisting troop requests from the military during a time of war is difficult for any chief executive--particularly for Democratic presidents.

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It's obviously significant that Karzai has not only agreed to a run-off, but has acquiesced to holding that run-off on November 7, rather than pushing it back until after the Afghan winter, as some thought he might try to do. And it does give the Obama administration some more room to operate. But how much?

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General Stanley McChrystal's request to send more troops to Afghanistan has induced sticker shock for many Americans--including, apparently, President Obama. The integrated counterinsurgency, or COIN, strategy that McChrystal wants to pursue has many components: protecting Afghan civilians, rapidly expanding the Afghan army and police, reforming government, providing economic development assistance, weaning Taliban fighters and leaders away from Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden, reconciling them into the new government, and targeting those who refuse.

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Back when my wife was teaching third grade, I used to joke about grading her students’ book reports the way you might treat an academic paper or a book review in TNR. (“This book report on George Washington, a scant three pages, does nothing to advance our understanding of the first president.”) Pointing out a logical contradiction in a Fred Barnes article is kind of like that. But the flesh is weak. In his latest piece, Barnes argues that Obama is weak. Check out these two paragraphs: Afghanistan is his test.

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Picking the most damning bit from Rajiv Chandrasekran's Washington Post article on the fundamental disconnect between civilian and military officials during the formulation of the Obama administration's Afghanistan policy is tough. The article is full of details that, frankly, make the Obama administration look more than a little inept.

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Newsweek has a long and thorough profile of Obama's man in Afghanistan: At West Point, the younger McChrystal was "a troublemaker," he recalls. He often violated the drinking ban and got caught at it, walking hundreds of hours of punishment drills, pacing up and down a stone courtyard in full-dress uniform, carrying a rifle. As a senior, McChrystal organized a mock infantry attack on a school building, using real guns and rolled-up socks as grenades, and was nearly shot by the military police guarding the building.

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A conservative veteran's group wants to make it happen:  Mr. Hegseth, for his part, said his group [Vets for Freedom] planned to use Gen. McChrystal's name and image in all of its mailings about Afghanistan as a way of making him the public face of the Afghan war. The idea draws heavily from the Bush administration, which used Gen. David Petraeus as an effective public surrogate during the Iraq debates. "What we're trying to do here is raise the visibility of Gen. McChrystal," he said.

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