By Khalil Nouri STAFF WRITER / EDITOR
Observers were split over the insubordination and mocking comments by General McChrystal and his staff towards the Vice President, senior Whitehouse officials, and Mr. Obama that was recently published in an article by a Rolling Stones Magazine writer. Some viewed this as an unimportant matter and thus we should have proceeded with the war effort, while others viewed it a profound act of disobedience by a top soldier and his lower chain of command that required severe reprimanding.
There is no doubt that this Whitehouse-McChrystal dilemma is a huge additional distraction to the impending campaign in Kandahar; and the fallout, could alter the existing and difficult war quagmire by significantly redefining the shape, form and function of the entire war effort in Afghanistan. There are pluses and minuses to both sides of the aforementioned public exposure of the General’s thoughts.
A McCHRYSTAL RESIGNATION
Relieving the general could be a major blow to the already slow moving counterinsurgency operation in Kandahar, where the prospect for success throughout Afghanistan hinges upon success in this Pashtun heartland city that cradled the Taliban over a decade ago.
General McChrystal enjoyed the closest relationship of any American official with the unpopular Afghan President. Mr. Karzai was in support of McChrystal’s continued service as the top General to lead the NATO operation in his country.
Furthermore, there is no doubt that, Mr. Karzai was trying to make every effort to hang on to this General. With McChrystal’s removal, Karzai’s mental state could become even more fragile because his sense of isolation from Ambassador Eikenberry, Holbrooke and secretary Gates is highly likely to be guaranteed. General David Petraeus who has now replaced General McChrystal could have unknown consequences upon Karzai and any future doctrine that reflects and measures stability and success of the war.
Any revision to the current plan may lead to other developments; a policy change could alter Kandahar’s power broker grip that places Karzai’s tribe in a position to dominate other tribes in the region. A new doctrine could break the Karzai family, and tribal dominance over Kandahar.
However, General McChrystal has been walking a fine-line in dealing with Karzai and the powerbrokers in Kandahar. Whatever the case, there are some strong value added influences that Mr. Karzai needed from McChrystal to keep his alleged corrupt family afloat and in power.
With respect to the Taliban, they joyfully said, “The Afghan people can see the divisions between the Americans and the other nations, between the commanders and the civilians,” they went on. “If they don’t leave Afghanistan in the coming years most of their soldiers will die or go crazy.”
If the General had carried on with his job, undoubtedly, there would have been some bridge building and fence mending with his close colleagues Holbrooke and Eikenberry that had to take place. He would have had to work hard to repair his relationships with all civilian leaders. McChrystal’s relationship with them had already turned sour due to the many disagreements over the war effort. Hence, General McChrystal would have had to walk a fine-line with the civilian leadership as well.
Due to the limited window left for troop withdrawal by July 2011, he not only would have had to make his counterinsurgency campaign a workable one, but he had to win the hearts and minds of ordinary folks on the ground. In that regards, with the severity of the Karzai family caused tribal imbalance, and opium cultivation out of control, it wouldn’t have been an easy task for him.
Because of this recent brouhaha, McChrystal and the Obama administration in essence should have had a policy review before the scheduled one in December 2010. The current policy and the current policy creator both should have come under earlier review.
Unfortunately, General McChrystal allowed a culture of arrogance and contempt for the civilian leadership to emerge within in his staff, which is unacceptable in any military leader structure, in peacetime or in war.
Of course, the war cannot be prosecuted successfully if there is no two way trust and respect between the President and his general on the ground. And that officer cannot advise his upper chain of command effectively if he does not defer to that chain of command himself.
On another hand, the fundamental issue here is that the military in Afghanistan is under enormous pressure and stress. This war by itself is the toughest war in a post WWII world; the graveyard of empires cannot be dealt with by cutting corners or making snap judgments based on media exposure alone.
If I had Mr. Obama’s ears, I would have told him a fallen wheel in a vehicle will not make the vehicle run, no matter who the driver is. And therefore, despite that you have replaced General McChrystal with General Petraeus as the commanding general, rest assured, this will not change the war on the ground. Unless, a new policy review is conducted that includes native Afghan thinkers and policy makers within the Afghan American community who can really help in this effort, nothing is going to change. Native born Afghan Americans have family ties to all of the players on the ground, and can go where no other Americans can go.
And finally, the Major question is: How will the Karzai family behave now that McChrystal is gone?
Khalil Nouri is the cofounder of New World Strategies Coalition Inc., a native think tank for nonmilitary solution studies for Afghanistan. www.nwscinc.org
Khalil Nouri was born in an Afghan political family. His father, uncles, and cousins were all career diplomats in the Afghan government. His father was also amongst the very first in 1944 to open and work in the Afghan Embassy in Washington D.C., and subsequently his diplomatic career was in Moscow, Pakistan, London and Indonesia. Throughout all this time, since 1960’s, Khalil grew to be exposed in Afghan politics and foreign policy. During the past 35 years he has been closely following the dreadful situation in Afghanistan. His years of self- contemplation of complex Afghan political strife and also his recognized tribal roots gave him the upper edge to understand the exact symptoms of the grim situation in Afghanistan. In that regards, he sees himself being part of the solution for a stable and a prosperous Afghanistan, similar to the one he once knew. One of his major duties at the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan in 2002 was advisory role to LTG Franklin Hegenbeck. He has worked closely with the Afghan tribes and his tribal exposure is well tailored for unobstructed cross-cultural boundaries within all Afghan ethnicities. He takes pride in his family lineage specifically with the last name “Nouri” surnamed from his great-grandfather “Nour Mohammad Khan” uncle to King Nader-Shah and governor of Kandahar in 1830, who signed the British defeat and exit conformity leaving the last Afghan territory in second Anglo-Afghan war. Khalil is a guest columnist for Seattle Times, McClatchy News Tribune, Laguna Journal, Canada Free Press, Salem News, Opinion Maker and a staff writer for Veterans Today. He is the cofounder of NWSC Inc. (New World Strategies Coalition Inc.) a center for Integrative-Studies and a center for Integrative-Action that consists of 24- nonmilitary solution for Afghanistan. The function of the Integrative-Studies division (a native Afghan think tank) is to create ideas and then evolve them into concepts that can be turned over to the Integrative-Action division for implementation. Khalil has been a Boeing Engineer in Commercial Airplane Group since 1990, he moved to the United States in 1974. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering, and currently enrolled in Masters of Science program in Diplomacy / Foreign Policy.