White House Starts to Get It, Takes Up the “COIN + Illegitimacy ? Love” Message

The Obama White House is starting to get hip to the internally contradictory suggestions from the John Nagls of the world. From USA TODAY:

As Afghan officials wrangle over their nation’s disputed election, the White House chief of staff said Sunday that President Obama won’t make a decision on sending more troops to Afghanistan until that country has a credible government.

Obama won’t order more U.S. troops to Afghanistan until it forms a legitimate government, Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, said on CNN’s State of the Union.

Emanuel said that it would be “reckless to make a decision on U.S. troop levels” without a thorough analysis of Afghanistan’s ability to govern itself.

John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Afghanistan must prove to be a legitimate partner in the war against Taliban insurgents before the U.S. sends more troops. “It would be entirely irresponsible for the president of the United States to commit more troops to this country when we don’t even have an election finished and know who the president is and what kind of government we’re working with,” Kerry, D-Mass., told the CNN program during a visit to Kabul.

The post-election process in Afghanistan is teetering on the edge of an abyss right now, with Karzai already long outstaying his constitutional welcome in the presidency. His massive fraud scheme to steal the election on the first round largely exposed to the light of day, he finds himself on the ropes in his country’s own electoral integrity processes, and the supporters of his top opponent have already promised protests “with Kalashnakovs” should Karzai try to steamroll back into the presidency. The U.S. seems to have a preferred way out: Karzai concedes that he didn’t win enough to avoid the runoff, and Abdullah would then concede to Karzai in exchange for the placement of some of his supporters in the Karzai administration. Karzai seems to be balking at this notion, and if that’s the case, then the administration’s way out of another troop increase (and, God willing, the U.S. military’s way out of Afghanistan entirely) will have been paved.

I’ve struggled with the wisdom of spending so much time blogging about the war in Afghanistan in the terms of counterinsurgency doctrine, as I find it to be vile lipstick on the pig of endless militaristic interventionism. Situations like this clearly show the utility: sometimes it’s the contradictions inherent in the pro-war movement arguments that makes an anti-war move more palatable to Democrats too frightened to follow their base into a foreign policy not based on out-hawking the hawks.

Help get the message to the White House and to Congress: sign Rethink Afghanistan’s petition calling for civilian solutions instead of more militarism and war.

Derrick Crowe is the Afghanistan blog fellow for Brave New Foundation / The Seminal. Learn how the war in Afghanistan undermines U.S. security: watch Rethink Afghanistan (Part Six), & visit http://rethinkafghanistan.com/blog.

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