Huffpost Politics
Jason Linkins Headshot

Palin Gets Afghanistan Commander's Name, Strategy Wrong

Posted: Updated:

Sarah Palin gets wrong both the commanding general in Afghanistan's name and position.

Watch:

The commanding general in Afghanistan didn't merely state that Surge tactics won't work! He also said that tribal involvement in the COIN strategy wouldn't work either! Absolutely right on infrastructure in Afghanistan though! Know what they really need in Afghanistan to enhance security? ROADS.

Palin thinks our commander in Afghanistan is someone named "McClellan." It is, I believe, McKiernan. And Palin is DEAD WRONG. He absolutely said that tribal involvement in Afghanistan COIN strategy would not work.

McKiernan: "I do think there's a role for traditional tribal authorities and tribal structure in Afghanistan, in the rural areas especially, to play in a community-based sense of security, of connection with the government, and of environmental considerations. But I think that has to be led, that tribal engagement, it has to be led by the Afghan government. I specifically tell my chain of command in ISAF [International Security Assistance Force, the name for NATO's mission in Afghanistan] that I don't want the military to be engaging the tribes to do that. It has to be through the Afghan government to do that. But of course, there's danger in that. There's always, "Is this particular tribe, is it being reached out to for all the right reasons?" That has to be watched very closely."

McKiernan: "First of all, please don't think that I'm saying there's no room for tribal engagement in Afghanistan, because I think it's very necessary. But I think it's much more complex environment of tribal linkages, and intertribal complexity than there is in Iraq. It's not as simple as taking the Sunni Awakening and doing the Pashtun Awakening in Afghanistan. It's much more complex than that."

UPDATE: Ilan Goldenberg sums up the foreign policy portion of the debate:

1. Palin mispronounced our commander in Afghanistan, Dave McKiernan's name and also claimed that he supported the idea of using the Iraq surge as a model for Afghanistan even though just yesterday he said he did not.

2. In response to a question on Iran and Pakistan Palin answered by starting to talk about Iraq. Similar to McCain's obsession on Iraq with complete neglect for all other national security priorities.

3. Palin promised that the Middle East peace process would be a top priority for a McCain administration. But McCain's own advisors last week said that it wouldn't.

4. Palin was unable to distinguish any specific difference between Bush and McCain on any foreign policy issues. Joe Biden made that point very clearly.

5. Sarah Palin seems to rely quite heavily on her notes and on a very limited set of talking points. She has been dodging questions all night long.