The Bin Ladin chase was a good idea. "Civilizing" Afghanistan? Stupid and un-doable--but damn profitable for the War Party.
The War Party got its way and handed off the problem to Obama, an indecisive Socialist/Statist ideologue with an attitude. Because Obama is incapable of command and leadership, the misbegotten Afghanistan mission is in trouble.
But it's not only Obama.
...it’s a little late to be complaining about how dense the administration officials are, regardless of how true that view is. Recall that this conversation took place.
General McChrystal had to be aware of the stipulations when he took the assignment. The time to have told the administration that commitment to a counterinsurgency campaign would take another half decade or more and that military force would have to be applied was a year ago.
Inside the Oval Office, Obama asked Petraeus, “David, tell me now. I want you to be honest with me. You can do this in 18 months?”
“Sir, I’m confident we can train and hand over to the ANA [Afghan National Army] in that time frame,” Petraeus replied.
“Good. No problem,” the president said. “If you can’t do the things you say you can in 18 months, then no one is going to suggest we stay, right?”
“Yes, sir, in agreement,” Petraeus said.
“Yes, sir,” Mullen said.
The president was crisp but informal. “Bob, you have any problems?” he asked Gates, who said he was fine with it.
The president then encapsulated the new policy: in quickly, out quickly, focus on Al Qaeda, and build the Afghan Army. “I’m not asking you to change what you believe, but if you don’t agree with me that we can execute this, say so now,” he said. No one said anything.
“Tell me now,” Obama repeated.
“Fully support, sir,” Mullen said.
“Ditto,” Petraeus said.
Petraeus was blowing smoke, big-time, when he stated that the Afghan Army could be trained-up and ready to go in 18 months. Recall that a similar project in VietNam took around 4-5 years--and that project had a WILLING and ABLE South Vietnamese military. In Afghanistan, those elements: 'willing' and 'able', are conspicuous by their total absence.
In other words, McChrystal took on an assignment which he knew (or should have known) was impossible to accomplish; he then implemented Obama's tactical requirements (ROEs which are suicidal), and now he deliberately yelps. One has to question McChrystal's bona fides.
The only sensible objective in Afghanistan is to seek and destroy Bin Laden. "Civilizing" that country, or up-training its military, is a fool's venture and, frankly, none of our damn business.