Friday, February 27, 2009

Here Is Bacevich's Counterpoint; John McCain

A day after posting that there was no point/counterpoint between Nagl and Bacevich, SWJ puts up the content of Senator John McCain's remarks to the American Enterprise Institute.

Bacevich offered no counterpoint to Nagl. Nagl moves past the question of "why?" and gets to the "how," which Bacevich never does. McCain's remarks serve as an excellent rebuttal to Bacevich's stance. Nagl's piece stands without challenge in substance.

Anyone? COL Gentile?

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, I finally managed to find these two items thanks to your posts.

    Yes, they do speak past each other, but that is not a problem in this case. Nagl speaks about how to win, and Bacevich does not. Why? First because Bacevich criticizes the victory notion to begin with. It is hard to answer the question of "how should we go about winning" if you do not believe that winning is possible. Had Bacevich suddenly turned around and said, "here is what we need to do..." then that would have been a shocking departure given his previous writing.

    Nagl does little more than advance a shopping list. A huge Afghan army (who is going to pay for it, not just to set it up, but to ensure its existence afterward?), more U.S. troops, a state built in the image of America. etc. Not too impressive, and definitely not convincing because it is entirely devoid of any lessons from history, from past such plans in southeast Asia and Latin America, all of which resulted in failure and the massive, unnecessary loss of millions of lives.

    If Nagl were really a forward-looking type, he would see that his plans would be setting up Afghanistan as a future military dictatorship, not a liberal state as he claims to envision. The desire to prevent Afghanistan from ever again being used as a staging ground against U.S. interests is an utterly impossible goal: we will stay as long as it takes for Afghans to stop disliking us, even if it means that more of them will dislike us.

    That is they key, and it strikes me as odd that the only permissible American response is: what kind of war should we wage? There seems to be no allowable alternative. If the pivot is that a section of the world feels aggrieved by U.S. policies, then the alternative might be to modify those policies. The U.S. may have little choice: your power will last as long as you are good for continued loans, and with the growing economic crisis, the growing deficit spending, it is not unreasonable to envision a situation where either the foreign lending to the U.S. dries up, or, those who holds vast U.S. loans begin to use that as leverage over American policy. No wonder Clinton will not admonish China, not now. No wonder that the Nagls of the world, so keen for liberal democracies, are generally mute about dictatorships in the Gulf, some of which have invested massively in the U.S. and hold their own significant share of U.S. debt.

    Sorry, I feel like I am about to bore a stoat at a hundred paces again.


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