5 years ago
U.S. Marine Corps Commandant Conway has directly faulted President Obama’s withdrawal deadline for giving aid and comfort to the enemy in Afghanistan.
President Barack Obama’s July 2011 date to start withdrawing troops from Afghanistan has given a morale boost to Taliban insurgents, who believe they can wait out NATO forces, the top U.S. Marine said Tuesday.
But General James Conway, who is retiring this fall as commandant of the Marine Corps, said he believed Marines would not be in a position to withdraw from the fight in southern Afghanistan for years.
Conway’s unusually blunt assessment is likely to fan criticism by opposition Republicans of Obama’s war strategy as public opinion of the nine-year-old war sours further.
“In some ways, we think right now it is probably giving our enemy sustenance,” Conway said of the July 2011 deadline.
But is this mere speculation or opinion? Conway continued, “In fact we’ve intercepted communications that say, ‘Hey, you know, we only need to hold out for so long.'” This degree of public challenge and direct truth-telling within the highest ranks of the military is fairly unique, and might be a function of not only his beliefs and the supporting evidence, but also of the fact that he is a short-timer. General James F. Amos is currently before the U.S. Senate for confirmation as the next Marine Corps Commandant. Conway might be thinking, “What are they going to do – force me to retire?”
The truth is refreshing, and it leaves little doubt as to the fact that the perception of withdrawal is giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Conway attempts to address this perception in his interview, but the only one who can really accomplish that is the very one who forced the withdrawal deadline on the troops to begin with.
Dr. Steven Metz recently said of the Malayan insurgency (concerning Obama’s withdrawal strategy), “I do find it ironic that Malaya is often held up as a model for how to do counterinsurgency, yet one of the things that made that campaign successful was that the British announced their intention to withdraw.” Based on what I know, I think that it is unproven speculation that “an announcement of withdrawal” aided the campaign, but in this case speculation isn’t needed.
There is no irony, and there is no need to hold a PhD in order to understand the exigencies defining the situation. We needn’t obfuscate the facts with pedantic theory in order to be wise. The enemy wants to believe that the U.S. presence will vanish sooner rather than later, and our CiC is giving them that assurance.