Next time, the Democrats should try a different strategy. Instead of calling for troop cuts in Iraq, they should call for transferring forces and resources from Iraq to Afghanistan.I am just going to ignore the insanity of the “leave Iraq now” and focus on the Afghanistan issue. What happened to working with our allies? Bringing the Europeans into the decision making process and the fight? That is all we heard in ’04. Right now we are at a critical point in building up the Afghan National Army (ANA), and years in the building up of Europe (NATO and non-NATO) and Canada from a static and Blue Helmet force into a fighting force with strategic reach. Phase 1 & 2 of ISAF complete, moving towards Phase 3 & 4 with NATO taking more control. From Germany to Canada, this experience is causing them to adjust military strategy and buy more kit. If we run in right now and for political reasons effectively tell NATO and its Partner Nations that they are useless; we will have destroyed any chance to assist NATO to become relevant. When it comes to Force Generation, we can and will be in the fight as a member of NATO – but to run in like a bully-boy cowboy right now would be the greatest degree of Strategic foolishness.
By forcing a debate on transferring American forces back to Afghanistan, the Democrats can avoid the trap of allowing Republicans to claim they are weak. They can argue that their proposal is not a withdrawal from the front, but rather a deployment to an equally important front where American leadership can make the difference in securing a long-term victory.
Democrats can justifiably argue their goal is to reverse the Bush administration's premature diversion to Iraq. If nothing else, such a debate would focus attention on the Bush administration's failure to finish the job in Afghanistan.So, that is it? How do we spin this to make political points? Damn building up NATO, lets say they are buffoons so we can take the House and Senate in ’06? Don’t build up the ANA, just Soviet style flood the country with troops? Where is the intellectual rigor in that?
By marrying good policy with good politics in this way, the Democrats can help win the war on terrorism and help themselves at the same time.
The Politics of Pettiness is not going to give us the two-party national security consensus this nation needs. Is “winning” in the ’06 election really more important than victory in the field? Is that where the national security braintrust of the party of Truman focused? Shame on them if true. In the end, this will do nothing, if followed, but embolden our enemies, injure our coalition, and make warfighting something on the same level of school uniforms, paid pet leave and a bridge to nowhere.
William M. Arkin isn’t very happy either.
The bumper-sticker thin anti-Bush national security policy offered by Rubin is only immediate, only political.