Friday, September 25, 2009

David Brooks on McChrystal's Report

David Brooks has a piece in today's NYT (here) advocating for an increased American military effort in Afghanistan. As I read it, Brooks is specifically (attempting to) rebut George Will's call, a couple of weeks ago, for a retreat.

Brooks argues that in order to effectively implement a counterinsurgency strategy, the United States must go "all in." He says that Donald Rumsfeld's conception/argument for war-fighting from a distance has been consistently disproved ("these middling strategies just create a situation in which you have enough forces to assume responsibility for a conflict, but not enough to prevail") and that Obama would be wrong not to heed Stanley McChrystal's request for additional troops.

I'm not on board.

Here's the portion of Brooks' argument where I particularly question his wisdom:
Since 1979, we have been involved in a long, complex conflict against Islamic extremism. We’ve fought this ideology in many ways in many places, and we shouldn’t pretend we understand how this conflict will evolve. But we should understand that the conflict is unavoidable and that when extremism pushes, it’s in our long-term interests to push back — and that eventually, if we do so, extremism will wither.
What's Brooks's evidence that "extremism will wither" by virtue of fighting it (as opposed to confronting it otherwise)? Extremism has grown consistently more widespread during the time that America has engaged in military efforts to combat it, and I'm by no means convinced that more troops in Afghanistan is the smartest move going forward.

Brooks refers to people who know the truth about Afghanistan as having a "guardedly optimistic" view. He cites to Clare Lockhart. Who else is he reading/watching? I sure think I am missing them, because what I read does not compel optimism.

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