23 June 2011


President Obama’s alleged justification for the pullout of 33,000 troops from Afghanistan is as full of holes as the military’s opposition to it.

The president has been a bit more subtle than Bush’s “mission accomplished” but not much more. The proposition that al-Qaida is “on a path to defeat” seems dubious at best and hopelessly optimistic at worst, while the notion that the Afghan security apparatus is nearly trained and ready to resist insurgency is plainly risible.

On the other hand, the military is still reiterating its mantra of one more push and victory is within our grasp. This is equally daft. Victory is not achievable under any circumstances.

Whatever else happens, Afghanistan will fall apart when the Americans leave. But a continued substantial presence of foreign troops will not resolve the problems and will not bring peace to that corrupt, unhappy country.

So I support the decision to bring back the troops as quickly as possible. If, for political reasons, Obama has to dress up the decision as mission accomplished, then he may be forgiven by history.

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