Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Way out in left field

It was either Frankie Frisch, Leo Durocher, or Casey Stengel. Baseball historians can't agree.

The story goes that one of these baseball greats was a player-manager. He sent a rookie into play left field (or center field, depending on which version you choose).

The rookie drops two fly balls. The crusty manager pulls the rookie and puts himself in his place. He proceeds to make an error himself. He throws his glove to the ground and shouts, "That rookie has left field so screwed up nobody can play it."

The commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Army Gen. David McKiernan, was "fired" yesterday after less than a year in the job.

General McKiernan asked for 30,000 more troops in 2008 when he took over from the NATO mission which had essentially failed. Bush gave him 6,000 of those troops. President Obama has will have given him 21,000 by the end of this year and they're considering another 10,000 next year. It's a fine old military tradition that you sack the guy who asked for reasonable resources and then give those resources to his successor who is then successful.

Let's hope so.

And let's hope the Obama administration has a strategy for Afghanistan. To date, they admit they do not.

In November of 2001, per the account of the Delta Force commander who lead the team of special ops experts into the Tora Bora mountains, we had bin Laden surrounded. This battle in Afghanistan made sense. In his book Kill Bin Laden, Dalton Fury (an alias) describes the battle in detail.

And he describes his dismay when he realized that bin Laden had a back door escape into Pakistan. He asked for additional support from military commanders up the chain, all the way to Washington D.C. But they refused to close that escape route. To this day he doesn't understand why. Neither do I.

Again, what is the purpose today of more troops in Afghanistan? Are we going to accomplish what 250,000 Soviet Red Army troops could not? What is the mission? What is the end game? What is the role of Pakistan and the rest of the Muslim world in solving the Taliban issue?

Good men have been in Afghanistan longer than we have been in Iraq. What have we accomplished?

This mess has become so screwed up it will be amazing if any one Gerneral can get it right.

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