Right-wing media have seized on reports that, when reviewing the Afghanistan war's strategy, President Obama "avoided talk of victory." But many military leaders, including Gen. David Petraeus, agree with Obama and have said that Afghanistan is not a war "you win."
Right-wing media attack Obama for reportedly "avoid[ing] talk of victory" in Afghanistan
Washington Post article reports Obama "avoided talk of victory" in conducting review of Afghanistan war strategy in 2009. The Washington Post wrote about Woodward's upcoming book, Obama's Wars, and claimed, "According to Woodward's meeting-by-meeting, memo-by-memo account of the 2009 Afghan strategy review, the president avoided talk of victory as he described his objectives."
Kilmeade: "The guys who fight the wars have a problem with your six-page plan ... [in] which you never mention the word 'win.' " On the September 22 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade complained that "this 48-year-old professor, lawyer, two-year senator, draws up his own battle plan" for conducting the war in Afghanistan. Kilmeade later said, "The guys who fight the wars have a problem with your six-page plan to win a war, [in] which you never mention the word 'win.' "
Drudge links to Post article with link emphasizing that Obama "avoided talk of victory as war objective." From the Drudge Report:
Geller: "Is it any wonder our troops are dying at record levels?" In a September 22 Atlas Shrugs post, Pam Geller quoted from The Washington Post article and wrote, "Is it any wonder our troops are dying at record levels?" Geller also wrote (emphasis in original): "Coward alert (and remember he campaigned on war in Afghanistan, that was where we really needed to be - the good war)... Ugh."
But military experts agree that a "decisive military victory" in Afghanistan is unlikely
Gen. Petraeus: "You have to recognize also that I don't think you win this war. ... This is the kind of fight we're in for our lives and probably our kids' lives." The same Washington Post article also quoted Petraeus as saying to Woodward, "You have to recognize also that I don't think you win this war. I think you keep fighting. It's a little bit like Iraq, actually. ... Yes, there has been enormous progress in Iraq. But there are still horrific attacks in Iraq, and you have to stay vigilant. You have to stay after it. This is the kind of fight we're in for the rest of our lives and probably our kids' lives."
British Brg.-Gen. Mark Carleton-Smith reportedly "says that a decisive military victory" in Afghanistan "is impossible." In an October 4, 2008, article, The Associated Press reported:
The senior British commander in Afghanistan says that a decisive military victory there is impossible and the Taliban may well be part of a long-term solution for the country.
The Sunday Times newspaper quotes Brig.-Gen. Mark Carleton-Smith as saying that the alliance is not going to win the war.
He says the issue now is about reducing the war to a manageable level of insurgency that's not a strategic threat and can be managed by the Afghan army.
Ret. Col. Andrew Bacevich: Petraeus and McChrystal agree, "we will not win a military victory" in Afghanistan. In an April 9 appearance on PBS' Bill Moyers Journal, Andrew Bacevich, a retired colonel and professor of history and international relations at Boston University, noted that "the officer corps itself has given up on the idea of military victory," adding that "in the year 2010, nobody in the officer corps believes in military victory." From Bill Moyers Journal:
BILL MOYERS: Given what's happening in the killing of these innocent people, is the very term, "military victory in Afghanistan," an oxymoron?
ANDREW BACEVICH: Oh, this is -- yes. And I think one of the most interesting and indeed perplexing things that's happened in the past three, four years is that in many respects, the officer corps itself has given up on the idea of military victory. We could find any number of quotations from General Petraeus, the central command commander, and General McChrystal, the immediate commander in Afghanistan, in which they say that there is no military solution in Afghanistan, that we will not win a military victory, that the only solution to be gained, if there is one, is through bringing to success this project of armed nation-building.
Well, here in the year 2010, nobody in the officer corps believes in military victory. And in that sense, the officer corps has, I think, unwittingly really forfeited its claim to providing a unique and important service to American society. I mean, why, if indeed the purpose of the exercise in Afghanistan is to, I mean, to put it crudely, drag this country into the modern world, why put a four-star general in charge of that? Why not -- why not put a successful mayor of a big city? Why not put a legion of social reformers? Because the war in Afghanistan is not a war as the American military traditionally conceives of war.
Even those who support McChrystal and his strategy of counterinsurgency know that whatever the general manages to accomplish in Afghanistan, it's going to look more like Vietnam than Desert Storm. "It's not going to look like a win, smell like a win or taste like a win," says Maj. Gen. Bill Mayville, who serves as chief of operations for McChrystal. "This is going to end in an argument."