McChrystal Faces "Iraq 2006 Moment" in coming months
On Thursday, McChrystal's message that his strategy will weaken the Taliban in its heartland took its worst beating thus far, when he admitted that the planned offensive in Kandahar City and surrounding districts is being delayed until September at the earliest, because it does not have the support of the Kandahar population and leadership.
Equally damaging to the credibility of McChrystal's strategy was the Washington Post report published Thursday documenting in depth the failure of February's offensive in Marja.
The basic theme underlined in both stories - that the Afghan population in the Taliban heartland is not cooperating with U.S. and NATO forces - is likely to be repeated over and over again in media coverage in the coming months.
The Kandahar operation, which McChrystal's staff has touted as the pivotal campaign of the war, had previously been announced as beginning in June. But it is now clear that McChrystal has understood for weeks that the most basic premise of the operation turned out to be false.
"When you go to protect people, the people have to want you to protect them," said McChrystal, who was in Brussels for a NATO conference.
He didn't have to spell out the obvious implication: the people of Kandahar don't want the protection of foreign troops.
The Washington Post story on McChrystal's announcement reported "U.S. officials" had complained that "the support from Kandaharis that the United States was counting on [Afghan President Hamid] Karzai to deliver has not materialised."
That explanation hardly makes McChrystal's war plan more credible, because Karzai has made no secret of his preference for a negotiated settlement rather than continued efforts to weaken the Taliban by occupying key Taliban strongholds.
The report in the Post, written by National Editor Rajiv Chandrasekaran, provided the first detailed evidence of the systematic non-cooperation of the population of the district-sized area called Marja with U.S. troops ...
Categories: afghanistan, usa, war, army, military, war-on-terror