The relief of getting rid of Bush already washing over Europe has led many to think that it doesn’t really matter who succeeds him, since anyone — even a Republican — would be better.
Senator Obama will tell you we can’t win in Afghanistan without losing in Iraq. In fact, he has it exactly backwards. It is precisely the success of the surge in Iraq that shows us the way to succeed in Afghanistan. It is by applying the tried and true principles of counter-insurgency used in the surge — which Senator Obama opposed — that we will win in Afghanistan. With the right strategy and the right forces, we can succeed in both Iraq and Afghanistan. I know how to win wars. And if I’m elected President, I will turn around the war in Afghanistan, just as we have turned around the war in Iraq, with a comprehensive strategy for victory.
First of all, reinforcing your army does not constitute a strategy. It isn’t even a tactic. It’s just what it is — sending more guys to combat. In and of itself it cannot “succeed” or “fail”, and it certainly cannot “turn around” a war.
Second, even if we expand the definition to include Petraeus’s counterinsurgency tactics, it would be dishonest to call “the surge” a success. The Anbar tribes got fed up with the Salafi fanatics; then intra-Shia fighting forced Muqtada al-Sadr to call a time out. That’s what really happened in 2007. True, the Americans were shrewd enough to take advantage of these developments. But without them the troop increase would’ve amounted to just more live targets. With both JAM and Sunni insurgents running around in Baghdad, it’s doubtful anything would’ve come out of the much-vaunted security plan.
The reason McCain is scaring me is not that he’s talking rubbish about Iraq, which I’m used to, but the fact that he’s proposing to somehow transplant this “strategy” into Afghanistan. You cannot, and you couldn’t, even if it were a strategy. There is no “Helmand Awakening”, and no one is going to declare a unilateral cease-fire. Afghanistan isn’t Iraq, it’s much much worse, and no amount of “surging” will change that.