Message to Exum: Political Endorsement Doesn’t Make it Right

I’ve been following with interest some of the discussion of MGen Michael Flynn’s views on intelligence reform for the ISAF mission in Afghanistan. It revisits the debate on civil-military relations that came up back in September when Flynn’s ISAF boss,  General Stanley McChrystal, was publicly lobbying for his population-centric campaign plan before the White House had approved it. It also gets into some of the finer points of intelligence procedures and analysis. Much of the punditry, though, is simply missing the point that there are serious problems with the substance of the report, that go beyond just the relative merits of the fora through which it was publicly released – like how it was prepared, who it’s actually directed at, it’s ultimate impact on the mission, etc. Those problems extend far beyond the issues picked up by US commentators, who appear to be blissfully unaware of the impact on their friends and allies. I’m preparing something in-depth, or at least a bit more thoughtful than this brief missive, but for now, I’ll just draw attention to Andrew Exum’s profoundly misguided view that ex post facto political endorsement of Flynn’s actions somehow cancels out the problems of form that accompany the report’s release.

More to follow.

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