Who Do You Think Is Right?

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Marine photo / Lance Cpl. Cesar N. Contreras

Marine Lance Cpl. Timothy McGuire, and his military working dog, training to find IEDs earlier this month in Helmand province.

There are growing doubts about the chances of success for the U.S.-initiated war in Afghanistan. Rarely are opposing views crystallized as sharply as they were over the weekend: Marine General John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, says success, if not victory, is within reach. John McCreary, a former longtime Defense Intelligence Agency analyst now writing the NightWatch blog, says no way.

Allen, writing in the Washington Post, says:

We can achieve what we set out to do in Afghanistan, defeating al-Qaeda and denying it a haven, but that depends on achieving an Afghanistan that can stand on its own…This struggle is far from over, but the solution will be found in our growing strength and will not be defined by incidents of “green-on-blue” violence. Our cause is right, our determination is clear and our sacrifices have not been in vain. We are, in fact, prevailing.

McCreay, writing on his blog, says:

No war can be won in Afghanistan without winning it in Pakistan, in eastern Iran, and the southern reaches of the “Stans.” Alexander the Great apparently understood that better than all subsequent western generals who tried. General Allen’s comments [in a Pentagon briefing Thursday claiming progress] are testaments to military failure, in detail by district, after more than a decade of spent treasure, dead American young soldiers and dead Afghan allies and civilians.

Sounds a lot like the debates swirling around Iraq, c. 2006.