I don’t often say this, but George Will gets it exactly right.
But before launching New Deal 2.0 in Afghanistan, the Obama administration should ask itself: If U.S. forces are there to prevent re-establishment of al-Qaeda bases — evidently there are none now — must there be nation-building invasions of Somalia, Yemen and other sovereignty vacuums? U.S. forces are being increased by 21,000 to 68,000, bringing the coalition total to 110,000. About 9,000 are from Britain, where support for the war is waning. Counterinsurgency theory concerning the time and the ratio of forces required to protect the population indicates that, nationwide, Afghanistan would need hundreds of thousands of coalition troops, perhaps for a decade or more. That is inconceivable.
So, instead, forces should be substantially reduced to serve a comprehensively revised policy: America should do only what can be done from offshore, using intelligence, drones, cruise missiles, airstrikes and small, potent special forces units, concentrating on the porous 1,500-mile border with Pakistan, a nation that actually matters. Genius, said de Gaulle, recalling Bismarck’s decision to halt German forces short of Paris in 1870, sometimes consists of knowing when to stop. Genius is not required to recognize that in Afghanistan, when means now, before more American valor, such as Allen’s, is squandered.
This column is causing great controversy on the Right, but almost no comment from Progressives. Have we forgotten how Lyndon Johnson’s obsession with Vietnam poisoned the legacy of his domestic accomplishments?
This is where Obama has to make his bones. Get out of Afghanistan.