By Brent Budowsky - 10/06/09 10:10 PM EDT
Afghan President Hamid Karzai is increasingly reminiscent of President Diem in Vietnam. His credibility is in a shambles, and as Gen. Stanley McChrystal says, this situation must be dramatically improved.
There should be an all-out push for Karzai to broaden his government with a national unity coalition that includes his major opponent, former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, with an open offer to include insurgents willing to cease fire and join a unity government.
4. There should be aggressive action through any effective means to broaden the credibility of the Afghan government, to strongly combat the corruption that is rampant and destructive to any mission and to publicly define an endgame political solution that might well be similar to the Sunni Awakening in Iraq. We should employ any overt actions to achieve this.
5. Gen. McChrystal is one of our finest officers. His views should not be decisive, but should be given profound respect because of his military leadership and stellar track record. However, it is a violation of the chain of command and inappropriate for any uniformed officer to campaign and press for any policy not yet decided by the commander in chief.
6. Let’s have a hard conversation right now about approving extremely strong support for our troops, veterans and military families. We must never again wage war where combat troops lack body armor, retired troops become homeless and wounded troops want for medical care that fully meets their needs.
If we need to pass a war surtax, or enact a Patriot Bond version of the 1940s war bond, we should do it. Before any further decisions are made, we should be fully committed to support whatever our troops, vets and military families need.
7. Let’s understand and applaud the strategy of Gen. McChrystal to minimize civilian casualties. Let’s applaud the courage of our troops for risking their lives to minimize civilian casualties. Let’s understand that while air power and predator drones reduce the pain for us, they increase civilian casualties that must be avoided for moral standing and military success.
I hope Democrats and Republicans can agree on these seven points. While the president decides his policy, let’s have a political cease-fire and thoughtful national discussion There are arguments for and against more troops, but we must address the seven truths told here to maximize the success of any mission.
I would be inclined to support the president in whatever decision he makes, giving his policy a reasonable time to succeed so long as the government we fight for is credible, the endgame of the mission is clear and our people are told the truth about the challenges and goals of the mission.
Budowsky was an aide to ex-Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, former chief deputy majority whip of the House. He can be read on The Hill’s Pundits Blog and reached at email@example.com.