Congress Should Hold Hearings on Alternatives to Major Escalation
Embedded in General Stanley McChrystal's classified assessment of the war in Afghanistan is his conclusion that a successful counterinsurgency strategy will require 500,000 troops over five years.
This bombshell was dropped by NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC's Morning Joe on Wednesday:
The numbers are really pretty horrifying. What they say, embedded in this report by McChrystal, is they would need 500,000 troops - boots on the ground - and five years to do the job. No one expects that the Afghan Army could step up to that. Are we gonna put even half that of U.S. troops there, and NATO forces? No way. [Morning Joe, September 23, 2009]
Mitchell got the figure from an independent source. It was not revealed in the redacted version of the once classified report released by the Pentagon earlier this week. McChrystal has warned the administration that without an infusion of more troops the eight-year war in Afghanistan "will likely result in failure." There are perhaps only two people in America who think that this level of commitment is sustainable by the United States and its allies, and they left office last January. Thankfully, President Obama is re-thinking his Afghanistan strategy from top to bottom in light of McChrystal's report. In addition to the impossibility of sustaining the level of commitment this doomed-to-fail strategy would require are these stubborn facts:
- 2009 is already the deadliest year for U.S. forces since the war began eight years ago. Fifty-one of the seven hundred and thirty eight U.S. soldiers who have lost their lives in Afghanistan were killed last month alone.
Andrea Mitchell hit the nail on the head after revealing that 500,000 troops would be required over five years on MSNBC:
Would you prefer to have a president who doesn't shift strategy when he gets this kind of ground troop from the commanders?
Right question. And the answer is: NO!
Congress should immediately convene hearings to discuss alternatives to General McChrystal's proposal for such a massive escalation of the war in Afghanistan. It is time for the administration and Congress to demilitarize U.S. policy in Afghanistan and strike out in a new, sustainable, direction.