Monday, October 19, 2009

# Posted 5:56 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

TWO CHEERS FOR JOHN KERRY! Yes, you heard me right. Here's what Kerry had to say on CBS about relying on counterterrorism instead of counterinsurgency in Afghanistan:

SENATOR JOHN KERRY: That's correct. I-- I-- I do not believe that a counterterrorism strategy all by itself without a sufficient level of counterinsurgency will work because if you don't have a presence on the ground that's effective, it-- it's almost impossible to collect the kind of intelligence that you need to be equally effective in your counterterrorism.

JOHN DICKERSON: All right, Senator.

SENATOR JOHN KERRY: And, obviously, one of your components of counterterrorism is avoiding collateral damage, civilian casualties. So knowledge and-- and relationships and intelligence are really critical components of that kind of a mission. I think there's a lot I've learned about how we can recalibrate that part of it but that's not the whole mission. Counting the numbers of troops is not going to define our
success here.
Great, great stuff except for that last sentence. If you've read either the Petraeus counterinsurgency manual or Gen. McChrystal's assessment, you know that counterinsurgency is a very labor-intensive process. Kerry is way out on a Biden-esque limb if he thinks troop numbers don't matter.

But that's not why I down-graded Sen. Kerry from three cheers to two. Jamie Fly saw the same interview with Sen. Kerry and entitled his post about it Sen. Kerry's Colossal Error of Judgment. Actually, I agree pretty much with everything Jamie says, although I really wanted to praise Kerry for keeping one foot firmly planted in reality. Frankly, it's amazing to compare the indecisive and hesitant Kerry of today with the fabulously hawkish John Kerry who said this about Afghanistan just three years ago:
The Administration’s Afghanistan policy defines cut and run. Cut and run while the Taliban-led insurgency is running amok across entire regions of the country. Cut and run while Osama bin Laden and his henchmen hide and plot in a lawless no-man’s land. Cut and run even as we learn from Pakistani intelligence that the mastermind of the most recent attempt to blow up American airliners was an al Qaeda leader operating from Afghanistan. That’s right – the same killers who attacked us on 9/11 are still plotting attacks against America and they’re still holed up in Afghanistan.

We need a new policy – the one the president promised when we went into Afghanistan in the first place. Where NATO allies have pledged troops and assistance to Afghanistan, they must follow through. But the United States must lead by example by sending in at least five thousand additional American troops. More elite Special Forces troops, the best counter-insurgency units in the world; more civil affairs forces; and more experienced intelligence units. More predator drones to find the enemy, more helicopters to allow rapid deployments to confront them, and more heavy combat equipment to make sure we can crush the terrorists.
I hesitate to recycle talking points from 2004, but dare I say that Kerry has flip-flopped?

Cross-posted at Conventional Folly
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