Honestly? I wrote this Washington Independent analysis that I’d like to let stand for now. My suspicion is that McChrystal’s people didn’t leak it though; it would probably wouldn’t be Woodward they’d turn to if they did.


For more on the strategy/resource question within the administration, the Post’s analysis is really amazing, and contains a wealth of detail. It is not clear that the Obama administration will abandon a counterinsurgency campaign, but it is clear that new strategic facts have caused the administration to question whether it’s over-committing itself to Afghan governance:

The principal game-changer, in the view of White House officials, was Afghanistan’s presidential election last month, which was compromised by fraud, much of it in support of President Hamid Karzai. Although the results have not been certified, he almost certainly will remain in office, but under a cloud of illegitimacy that could complicate U.S. efforts to promote good governance.

This, it’s worth remembering, was also a game-changer for Andrew Exum of the Center for a New American Security, one of the advisers to McChrystal’s strategy review, who wondered if historians will remember the election as the moment when “we should have cut the cord on the Afghan government.” Counterinsurgency doesn’t require nation-building. But it’s fair to ask whether the Obama administration’s expansive rhetorical commitments to Afghanistan from the start — escalating most recently with Obama’s “war of necessity” line in August — preordained such a thing. If anything, the administration is in a position of trying to calibrate how much state-building, as opposed to nation-building (state-building focuses on indirect strengthening of host-nation institutions while nation-building is a set of governance and economic actions done for that host nation), is enough and how much is not enough. That’s perilously subjective.

 Read the whole thing.