General McChrystal has been asking for a substantial troop increase in Afghanistan for some weeks now, and the White House has been up 'til now unresponsive. Ostensibly the reason for the delay has been to give the President and his '"foreign policy expert" Vice President Joe Biden, time to mull over alternatives and come up with a really good plan, rather than to just jump in willy-nilly and risk failure, having not given the problem due consideration.
We now have a plan percolating to the surface that appears to be founded in the VP's foreign policy expertise.
According to a New Republic article from September 24, 2009:
“When Obama's national security team first considered a troop increase for Afghanistan in March, Biden circulated a document that outlined alternatives to a major escalation. Although the White House won't provide precise details, aides acknowledge that Biden urged the president to consider a narrow counterterrorism mission, heavy on Special Forces and Predator drone strikes, which would require far less manpower than the military was seeking.”
This approach to the War in Afghanistan has recently been widely circulated as a viable approach, and one the White House is heavily contemplating:
Refocusing on the Threat from al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan
Following an intensive 60-day interagency review, on March 27, 2009, the President announced a new strategy with a clear and focused goal: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat Al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future. The strategy is comprehensive and flexible and will need to be fully resourced. In addition to the new troops the President has chosen to deploy, the strategy calls for significantly more resources to the civilian effort and frequent evaluations of our progress.
According to an NYT article from September 22:
"Among the alternatives being presented to Mr. Obama is Mr. Biden’s suggestion to revamp the strategy altogether. Instead of increasing troops, officials said, Mr. Biden proposed scaling back the overall American military presence. Rather than trying to protect the Afghan population from the Taliban, American forces would concentrate on strikes against Qaeda cells, primarily in Pakistan, using special forces, Predator missile attacks and other surgical tactics."
Biden is supposed to be a foreign policy expert. Actually, he is more accurately described as a foreign policy weather vane. Whatever Joe Biden opines on foreign policy has inevitably and repeatedly, without exception I can think of, turned out to be exactly, totally, WRONG. In fact, his record for being wrong in foreign policy issues has been so absolutely amazingly consistent he should be in the Guiness Book of records.
* In 1979, he shared Jimmy Carter's starry-eyed belief that the fall of the Shah of Iran and the takeover by Ayatollah Khomeini represented progress for human rights. Throughout the hostage crisis, as US diplomats were daily paraded blindfolded in front of television cameras and threatened with execution, Biden opposed strong action against the terrorist mullahs and preached dialog.
* Throughout the 1980s. Biden opposed President Ronald Reagan's proactive policy against the Soviet Union. Biden was all for détente - which, in practice, meant Western subsidies would have enabled the moribund USSR to cling to life and continue doing mischief.
* In 1990, Biden found it difficult to support President George Bush's decision to use force to kick Saddam Hussein's army of occupation out of Kuwait.
* A decade-plus later, the senator did vote for the liberation of Iraq from Saddam’s tyranny. But as soon as terrorists started challenging the new democratic system in Iraq, he switched sides and became a critic of the whole war effort.
* Biden opposed The Surge, and openly stated that he felt the only way to achieve peace or victory in Iraq was to partition the country into thirds.
* For more than a decade, Biden has adopted an ambivalent attitude towards the Islamic Republic in Tehran, now emerging as the chief challenger to US interests in the Middle East. Biden's links with pro-Tehran lobbies in the US and his support for "unconditional dialogue" with the mullahs echo Obama's own wrong-headed promise to circumvent the current multilateral efforts by seeking direct US-Iran talks, excluding the Europeans as well as Russia and China.
So if Biden wants to cut back forces and concentrate solely on Al Quida using small unit tactics, it is without any doubt in my mind time to radically expand our force structure.