By Stefanie Schappert
Special to The Clyde Fitch Report
For those of you new to my Lipstick Conservative column, many months ago I wrote about the boondoggle in Afghanistan and how the current rules of engagement were putting our soldier’s lives at risk. In fact, it was the first op-ed I wrote for the column, and even back then I criticized the now-disgraced Gen. Stanley McChrystal for his unrealistic strategy in the battlefield.
Many on the left are under the assumption that just because you are conservative, you blindly support all military tactics — the “cave bear mentality” I call it. But they don’t realize that many soldiers in the military (and their families) have been against McChrystal’s rules of warfare since Obama put him in place to turn the war around.
So flash forward to today, and I can say with finality there is no love lost among the boots on the ground for McChrystal as top commander in Afghanistan. Any good soldier you speak with will agree — he had to go. And not because they disagree with his strategy, but because the military is all about structure: you just can’t have a subordinate, no matter how high up he is on the food chain, dissing the top commander under any circumstances. Imagine the VP of a company writing emails to the office gossip about his boss, emails insulting his boss’ character as well as his office policies. Then the office gossip blasts those emails to everyone in the company. That VP is going to get the ax, no doubt about it. And that’s exactly what happened to McChrystal. President Obama had no choice in the matter: you cannot keep someone on your payroll who blatantly disrespects you on the world stage.
Why McChrystal and his staff would be so brain dead as to allow a known antiwar journalist working for a known liberal mag like Rolling Stone is a whole other question. The bigger point here is that McChrystal’s gaffe could be the best thing that has happened to the Afghan war in the past year.
Petraeus In, McChrystal Out
The AP states that the counterinsurgency strategy, which the military calls COIN, is based on protecting civilians and weaning them away from the insurgents.
Problem is, it doesn’t work — or let’s say it works really well at getting our own soldiers killed while the bad guys get away. And when a policy to win the “hearts and minds” of the Afghan people leaves soldiers feeling like their command cares more about the enemy than their own men, frustration and low morale start to run rampant. It’s putting our guys in an unwinnable situation and who wants to risk their lives for that?
Now Obama has appointed Gen. David Petraeus to take over command of Afghanistan — and been confirmed by the Senate by a 99-0 vote; he will most likely be sworn in by the end of this week. The big question is whether he’ll change the tactics on the ground, and it’s looking like he will.
Even though Petraeus led the Iraq surge successfully, there are a few major differences in the conflicts, however, that he must take into consideration. First and foremost is the insurgency factor. In Iraq, most insurgents were foreign, easily identifiable by the Iraqis, easier to ostracize out of neighborhoods. In Afghanistan, the Taliban are the Afghans; they are completely embedded. They are the local citizens soldiers are ordered not to kill, creating a Catch-22 for our guys in the field.
Another big difference between Iraq and Afghanistan is infrastructure and terrain. To put it simply, there is very little infrastructure in Afghanistan; there’s limited communication between poor villages that are made of mud huts, ruled by warlord-like factions and are basically in the middle of nowhere. The terrain is treacherous for our soldiers carrying a minimum of 50 pounds of gear on their backs and traveling in slow-moving convoys, while the Taliban fighters can move quickly and ambush our guys easily.
The infrastructure does not make it conducive for the Afghan people to trust their own government. People complain that their president, Hamid Karzai, is corrupt. Trust me: the Iraq government is just as corrupt — as any new government is when it forms. Look at our own country’s history of trials and tribulations. But the Iraqis had been used to a central government under Saddam Hussein and also had access to computers, phones and newspapers. It’s really the lack of infrastructure that makes a central government near impossible to install in Afghanistan, and a gigantic hurdle Petraeus must overcome to truly succeed.
The Withdrawal Method
The last big hurdle Petraeus must overcome is the timetable for U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. OK, we know the liberal sect has no interest in war, and they’ve made it clear, whether it’s McChrystal or Gen. Betray-us, they will not support any military action in Afghanistan, no matter the circumstance.
Unfortunately, Obama knows this and is pandering to his far-left base by holding steady to his previously announced July 2011 withdrawal date from the Afghan theater. Um, the withdrawal method doesn’t work in preventing pregnancy and it won’t work any better here.
What is an obvious political move to people here in the U.S. is, also unfortunately, not a good move for the people of Afghanistan — and there lies the problem: Would you go the extra mile for a nation that has already told you they’re leaving in 12 months? It’s like the Afghans are signing their own death warrant. The Obama Administration can’t seem to understand that if you want the Afghans to trust the U.S., to become informants, to give up poppy growing, to believe in a central government, they have to trust us not to abandon them. This was a huge factor in the success of the Iraq war. The liberal media’s constant headlines demanding we pull out in Iraq just made the Iraqis think we weren’t in it for the long haul. It wasn’t until we committed more troops and a surge that things started to turn around. To the Iraqis, it could have just been a repeat of the first Gulf War: we convince them to be on our side; they are identified out in the open, and then we leave them high and dry to defend themselves against Saddam. Let’s just say it didn’t turn out well for many of those Iraqi families — and the same thing will happen in Afghanistan if we leave too soon. For the Afghans, the Taliban is lurking behind every corner, waiting to punish them and their families for cavorting with their U.S. enemy. And remember, this is a poor country — many are just worried about their next meal.
With his approval rating now about 40 percent, Obama has managed to isolate every other political demographic out there. Ramming Obamacare through without bipartisan support and racking up trillions more in debt since he took office are two of the main reasons. Add in the oil disaster and the recent lifting of the moratorium on drilling and Obama knows he’s teetering on the edge. He cannot risk isolating the last dregs of steadfast supporters before the November elections.
So will Obama change his wording to add “with conditions” to his withdrawal timetable? Let’s hope Petraeus convinces him to do so, for we can really win this thing and get out without leaving a hole for the Taliban to fill with more extremists set to destroy America and the west.
If you want to read in more detail about the insane constraints our soldiers must operate within in Afghanistan, again, read my previous article, “To Capture or to Coddle,” or this recent expose by the AP.
Stefanie Schappert is a freelance journalist based in New York. A staunch conservative in a self-professed city of liberals and the military wife of a Green Beret, she created Lipstick Conservative to share her unique viewpoint on politics and culture. Schappert is also reporting on the Tea Party movement for the New York edition of the Examiner.com. Other credits include Fox News Channel and NY1 News. Schappert’s conservative viewpoint came into sharp focus following the events of September 11, 2001, the resulting political climate, and living through her husband’s multiple deployments to the Middle East. This former NFL cheerleader and lifelong dancer is known to hang out with quite a liberal crowd and has been the buzz kill during many a dinner party. Contact Stefanie or learn more at lipstickconservative.com.
Lipstick Conservative does not necessarily represent the views of The Clyde Fitch Report.