Category Archives: Afghanistan

Time to decide on Afghanistan

Charles Krauthammer in his weekly column says it’s time for President Obama to decide how to proceed in Afghanistan – and to stop blaming George W. Bush for the problems there and elsewhere:

“It’s as if Obama’s presidency hasn’t really started. He’s still taking inventory of the Bush years. Just this Monday, he referred to “long years of drift” in Afghanistan in order to, I suppose, explain away his own, well, yearlong drift on Afghanistan. …

“In other words, Obama is facing the same decision on Afghanistan that Bush faced in late 2006 in deciding to surge in Iraq. …

“He is to be commended for reconsidering. But it is time he acted like a president and decided…”

Agreed.

The president did, however, stage a photo op Wednesday saluting fallen soldiers being returned home from Afghanistan. Presumably, administration officials were sensitive to unease and frustration from military families who are waiting for the commander in chief to command, along with the general public. Even I’ve got to admit, it was a really, really presidential-looking salute. Resolute, upright and bold. Unfortunately, those are “just words.”

 

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George Will calls for strategic withdrawal in Afghanistan

George F. Will, the Pulitzer Prize-winning  conservative commentator, has called for the United States to pull out most of its armed forces from Afghanistan. Published today in the Washington Post, the piece is sure to attract major attention and could affect debate (and indirectly, administration and congressional choices) on the issue.

Of the nation’s capitol, Will writes:

“This city should keep faith with them by rapidly reversing the trajectory of America’s involvement in Afghanistan…”

Towards the conclusion of his column, he advocates maintaining a limited, strategic presence, while shifting more focus on Pakistan:

“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.”

I respect Will as much as any modern conservative thinker. He’s the type of figure who when he says something that is unexpected or unconventional, you take notice and consider whether perhaps an accordant shift in views is warranted. His case must be evaluated of course (something I will be doing more of during the coming days), but he has great credibility up front.

As I noted above, this is a major move that has the potential to shake up the dialogue surrounding Afghanistan. Politco took immediate note, and you can bet cable and the net will be awash with reaction today.

Sure, hard core neoconservatives aren’t going to change their mind based on this pronouncement (as noted by Politico), but many conservatives will give Will’s argument a good hearing. Additionally, conservatives who have parted with recent GOP consensus on foreign policy (like Pat Buchanan and the late Robert Novak on Iraq) now have strong new cover to raise their voices.

Will be interesting to see the reaction, from all sides.

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