Afghan study group smackdown

Last week I was all set to review the recent Afghan Study Group report.  Then comes along Joshua Foust comes along and does such a thorough job of fisking the danged thing that I quickly decide that my puny comments are best left unpublished.

Just one thing though…I thought it was interesting that the report recommends “Scale Back and Eventually Suspend Combat Operations in the South and Reduce the U.S. Military Footprint.”  It then doesn’t really discuss what should happen in the rest of the country or how big the military footprint should be or, for that matter, what exactly they mean by that phrase.  Should we interpret that literally or that they also mean non-military personnel (military contractors, U.S. government aid workers, etc.)?

I found the recommendation interesting for its ambiguity.

Now the responses are coming in to Foust’s post and they’re very interesting to read.  In particular, I’d recommend the comment thread to his original post where  Steve Clemmons who was one of the authors responds (actually much of the thread is pretty good).

It doesn’t look like anyone is going to convince anyone else at this point but I think the whole thing underlies the problem that there remains a mass of angst (assuming angst comes in masses) about the stated mission there.

Andrew Exum becomes collateral damage as he takes hits for supporting Foust’s work:

First off, I am not sure when, exactly, I pushed Justin’s mother down a flight of stairs, but I must have done it, because man, Justin seriously doesn’t like me.

What makes this all the more bizarre is that I’m not even convinced we’re learning any lessons, any real lessons, from our experiences in Afghanistan or Iraq.  It still doesn’t look like we’ve got any sort of grand strategy or long term policy goals.  It’s just limp from one crisis (actual or fabricated) to another, cobbling together responses as we go.

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