As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Saturday, October 10, 2009

War Council After Peace Prize

David Kilcullen, Paul McCartney to Stanley McChrystal's John Lennon for the COIN set, unsurprisingly thinks that an outright escalation is the only path to victory in Afghanistan.

(CNN) -- An influential adviser to the U.S. commander in Afghanistan declared Friday that anything less than 25,000 extra international troops in the country would not be enough to win.

David Kilcullen, who also advised U.S. commanders in Iraq, told CNN's Christiane Amanpour the window of opportunity to turn around the war is closing.

Kilcullen's comments came as President Barack Obama, only hours after being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, again met with his top advisers to discuss strategy and troop levels in Afghanistan.

The U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, is reportedly asking for up to 40,000 extra troops. Some reports say there is an option on the table to send 60,000 additional troops, almost doubling the U.S. force now in the country.

Kilcullen, who has just come back from Afghanistan -- said the Obama administration needs to finish the strategy review as soon as possible. While the war is not as bad as some say, "it's worse than any other time in the past," he said.

Kilcullen is also aware of the problems of governmental corruption and the lack of a partner in the civilian leadership in the country. But he's certainly foregrounding the use of military force to overcome the fact that we'd be protecting the population in service to an illegitimate government.

The discordance of the war council at the White House on the day Barack Obama was handed the Nobel Peace Prize was not lost on the Afghans.

"I'm not sure I understand -- this isn't for peace here, is it?" said bank worker Homaira Reza. "Because we haven't got any."

Irfan Mohammed, whose shop windows were rattled a day earlier by a massive blast outside the Indian Embassy in central Kabul, said he believed Obama was a good man, and perhaps deserving of the laurel.

"But so far as Afghanistan goes, he hasn't made up his mind what to do," Mohammed said.

I still think the Nobel Committee, consciously or unconsciously, is undertaking some behavioral economics here. I don't know if it will work, but clearly Obama is in some kind of box.

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