And then there's Sen. Levin, saying, well, pretty much the exact same thing he has been for the last several months, basically verbatim, and in complete defiance of the reasoned arguments that have been made against his recommended course of action by reasonable and educated people (but then, that's politics, innit?):
The Obama administration has soured on a call from its top commander to double the size of the Afghan police and army, reflecting the White House's continued skepticism about the Afghan government even as the U.S. prepares a surge of troops into the country, people familiar with the matter say. ...
But the administration seems prepared to reject another of Gen. McChrystal's top priorities: his call to double the size of the Afghan police and army over the next few years.
The administration now favors an alternative plan that would seek to build a larger Afghan security force, but one that would be considerably smaller than what Gen. McChrystal had wanted, these people said. The president is likely to talk about Afghan troops Tuesday, without specifying a growth target for expanding their ranks.
"The president has a realistic view of how successful the training regimen can be, and that has helped inform his decision," a senior administration official said Sunday.
Everyone's telling me that a funding bill for escalation is going to be a tough vote, especially in the House, and particularly for Democrats. I can't see the rank and file deserting the president and the Speaker on this one, particularly with such a controversial issue as "not supporting the troops," and Democrats in contested districts -- as if they hadn't already faced enough tough votes this year -- will have no choice but to support funding for additional forces.
President Barack Obama must show how more U.S. combat troops will speed the build-up of the Afghan army to generate Democratic support for his new war strategy in Afghanistan, Senator Carl Levin said.
“The key here is an Afghan surge, not an American surge,” Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee and a Michigan Democrat, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” program yesterday.
“If the president lays out the case for why our combat forces that are going particularly to the south will increase the speed-up of the Afghan army, it seems to me that that would be very, very important,” he said. ...
Levin said showing that the mission of more U.S. troops is to “very quickly build up the Afghan army,” and “give them the capacity to take on the Taliban” is important to winning Democratic support.
All of which is to say that I don't think Levin has any damn idea what he's talking about here. Those Democrats who oppose escalation of the war aren't going to feel ok about additional troops so long as the president just promises we're Afghanizing the war, and those who recognize the impossibility of voting against a war supplemental only have so much leverage in demanding that the money go to a specific mission. (This is leaving aside altogether the fact that rapid Afghanization will fail even more spectacularly than will, I expect, whatever alternative President Obama presents tomorrow.) So ok, Senator Levin, we hear you. Now please just stop talking.
Let's be clear: the ANSF need to get bigger, and they need to get better. And perhaps doing that rapidly and Afghanizing the war was a workable solution several years ago, before the insurgency was thriving. But right now, under the current circumstances, it's going to be really, really difficult for them to get bigger and better at the same time. Calls for more training and mentoring of host nation forces at the expense of more extensive, security-oriented counterinsurgency operations are misguided, and strike me as disingenuous. This IS NOT an "easy way out," and it's not going to create conditions under which the U.S. can credibly claim "victory" (at least not any more than we could now); this will not bring peace with honor.
No matter which policy course is (well, was, really, at this point) chosen in Afghanistan, the training and mentoring of ANSF is (/was) probably going to be a part of it. But to imagine that we can just train up the good guys and get the hell out in the middle of a raging insurgency is just not particularly sane.