While I’m in I Told You So mode, there is a dawning recognition that Obama’s setting of a withdrawal deadline for Afghanistan was a blunder of the first magnitude. Hmm. Didn’t somebody call Afghanistan “The Graveyard of Timelines“?, writing “any thoughts of ‘time lines’ or ‘exit strategies’ in Afghanistan are delusional.” Or what about this?
Good American soldiers and Marines are getting killed and maimed for no good reason. This is a crime. It is a crime because men are dying for nothing, and the outcome was eminently predictable. Obama’s whole “plan,” such as it was, depended on getting the Afghans to “stand up”: but with a time line inevitably raising questions about the credibility of the American commitment, any Afghan with half his wits about him would hedge his bets, and be very, very leery about standing up. Winning a counterinsurgency depends crucially on getting the locals on your side–to provide intelligence, and to not support the enemy with intelligence, shelter, or supplies. But again, no villager is going to risk his neck for the Americans if the Americans are going to be gone in months. The Obama approach was doomed to failure, and that failure is looming. No wonder Patraeus passed out before testifying in Congress. And no wonder allies, most recently the Poles, are bailing. (The fact that Obama bailed on them recently probably had something to do with that as well.)
As Adam Smith said, there is much failure in a nation. And America is more resilient and stronger than any. But it is not without its limits. Those limits are being tested. A disastrous health care bill. Fiscal diarrhea (the latest: a request for $50 billion of emergency funding for states–a big wet kiss to public sector unions and employees). A string of foreign policy fiascos, all born of utter fecklessness mixed with complete cluelessness. A fumbling response to a massive oil spill, culminating in an otherworldly speech that said precious little about responding to the spill in the here and now, but instead dissolved into vaporous fantasies about green energy.
All of that is discouraging. But nothing as compared to the criminal waste of American lives due to a plan founded not on military reality or strategic wisdom, but on political expediency and short-sighted political calculation. Given that the result was completely foreseeable, that is utterly inexcusable.