Friday, March 11, 2011

SecDef Was Not At My Talk

Secretary of Defense Gates seems to have blasted the allies for trying to get out of Afghanistan as quickly as possible.  I guess he was already on the way to Brussels when I was presenting a talk on the lessons we have learned about caveats, their sources and how to deal with them.  Specifically, countries have developed the policies they have towards their Afghanistan mission due to the varying natures of their political systems, especially whether they have coalition governments or not.  One of the implications of this is that public criticism is not going to do much to change the policies of these governments.  Now, Gates apparently did this at a closed meeting BUT the Pentagon released the transcript of the speech, so it is not as public as shouting it while standing in the Grand Place.  Still, it is unlikely to be helpful. 

Perhaps the Brits and Germans have a similar view of de-surging as the US--starting with a small withdrawal to satisfy the domestic audience.  I am not sure about the pace of withdrawals.  Is Poland really moving that quickly: all out by 2012?  That would be pretty significant since the Poles have been willing to fight in dangerous places with few restrictions.

In sum, I can understand Gates' frustration, but it is unlikely that shaming will work here. 

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