Saturday, January 14, 2012

Bill Kristol doesn't understand how to fight the war he loves so much

Bill Kristol is good at finding new ways to be contemptible. It's bad that Marines in Afghanistan urinated on dead Taliban, he says, but you know what really makes him mad? The Obama Administration apologizing for it. 
So perhaps, as Rep. Allen West, once a battalion commander in Iraq, put it last week, all the sanctimonious Obama administration bigwigs “need to chill.” Did Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta really need to speak up at all? Couldn’t comment have been left to some junior public affairs officer at Camp Lejeune? And once he decided to weigh in, did Panetta need to condemn the Marines’ action as not just deplorable but “utterly deplorable”? Perhaps he felt a need to match Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who expressed not just dismay but “total dismay.”

Maybe, our current civilian leaders should spend a little less time posturing and a little more time supporting the troops who’ve been sent abroad to fight at the direction of their administration.
Kristol is congenitally unable to praise Democrats, and the overall piece veers dangerously close to being an apologia for corpse desecration. (Patton pissed in the Rhine, after all!) But what he seems not to understand is that the Obama Administration very vocally deplored the urination video because it's otherwise it's a huge victory for the Taliban.

Even Kristol's fellow warmonger Max Boot understands this:
The Marines are fighting not a total war but a counterinsurgency in which their goal is not only to militarily defeat the enemy but to win over the population. This could potentially make that job harder. 
The Marines often speak of the “strategic corporal”–the notion being that decisions made even by a lowly corporal can have high-level repercussions. This is a perfect example; indeed, one of the urinating Marines was a corporal.
The reason top-level administration figures weighed in was because the acts of a few stupid Marines was potentially devastating to the war's strategic aims, one of which is winning over the population. (Afghan President Hamid Karzai is also pretty good at loudly condemning U.S. errors in order to shore up his own position.) Contrition from senior, recognizable figures was required to minimize the damage.

Kristol, though, turns this incident into one of Obama not loving the troops enough. "He and his administration have a responsibility to err on the side of supporting our troops, rather than competing to chastise them sanctimoniously," Kristol writes. But if those troops commit an act that actively aids the enemy, what the hell else is there to do? Bill Kristol wants his war in Afghanistan. But maybe he just mostly wants to use it as a cudgel against Democrats. Because this column makes clear that he has no clue about—and maybe less interest in—achieving victory.

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