Thursday, November 12, 2009

Obama and Afghanistan - It’s Hard to Say No to the Generals

Remember William Westmoreland, the pugnacious general who commanded American troops in Vietnam?

Those of us from the Vietnam War protest era had a perfect foil: a hard core, right wing, dissident-hating stoic, Westmoreland personified what the new left hated about the military.

That imagery began to change considerably when Colin Powell became chairman of the Joint Chiefs and General Norman Schwarzkoph commanded Gulf War troops under Bush I in 1991.

The 21st Century style of military leadership is even more formidable.

Watch current Joint Chief Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen field questions and you’ll see a smooth, thoughtful and articulate military advisor. (Check out the Admiral’s Facebook page).

CENTCOM Commander General David Patraeus, who earned his PhD from Princeton in 1987, exemplifies the military intellectual.

The arguments President Obama is hearing from top brass at the Pentagon about an Afghanistan surge are not jingoistic and fear-based but sophisticated, geo-political analysis.

Saying no to the military’s intellectual firepower will not be easy.

(In addition, the stature and standing of the military rank and file is higher than it’s been since World War II).

Afghanistan war strategy should not be decided based on the charisma or IQ of military leaders. But this current batch of generals - and the admiral - is certainly quite capable of making a very compelling case.

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