Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Broader Menu? Not Just All In or Out

As folks consider what the Obama Administration should do in Iraq, the choices are proliferating.

Despite the best efforts of the some folks, there are more choices than just follow McChrystal's recommendation of 40k additional American troops and just get out. Kaplan seems to be recommending an enclave strategy that others have also proferred. The idea would be to focus on just a few population centers--Kandahar, Kabul and one or two others. I guess this would also allow the rest of the NATO folks to hang out in the North and West and muddle along there. The idea would be to focus the effort and see if one can get some success where it is most important and then demonstrate to Afghans elsewhere that the good guys can be competent.

Austin Long documents the math of a very narrow counter-terrorist (aka Biden plan) effort. Basically, a total of 13k Americans, mostly special operators, would be based in two or three spots and focus on Al Qaeda and not much else. The problem here is that the lines of communication (LOCs) and bases would be pretty vulnerable. And if the government of Afghanistan were to fall, would this plan mean a few outposts in a Somalia-like place?

What is abundantly clear are that all the options are bad. The least worst? Perhaps giving it one last chance to do it right?

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