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Opposing Afghanistan With Emphasis

George Will's column today has so many italicized words, and so many of them in weird places, that I actually went back and read them in order to try and detect a secret message. Alas, there's no secret message: He just really, really opposes the escalation in Afghanistan. And he makes a good case. Others argue the point here.

By Ezra Klein  |  September 1, 2009; 5:36 PM ET
Categories:  Afghanistan  
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All I can say is, where was Georgie for the last 8 years?

Posted by: srw3 | September 1, 2009 6:07 PM | Report abuse

The italics is a longstanding WaPo online problem. Occasionally you'll get ampersands and other random characters in the middle of words, too.

Posted by: frankiannuzzi | September 1, 2009 6:15 PM | Report abuse

The fact that Will was so quickly and severely rebuked by the neocons shows that he is likely in the right. I"ll argue again... if the Islamists in Pakistan and Afghanistan pose such a threat to civilization as we see it, how come 1) nobody else in the world save the US and UK feels an urge to drop everything to engage them and 2) the Islamist movement has not yet ever been able to gain foothold anywhere but in horrifically failed no-mans lands like Afghanistan or Waziristan? Radical Islam is a disease... but one more like Ebola than the flu. It devours its host region and prevents its own success. It should be contained, but the attempt at eradication is doomed to failure.

Posted by: steveboyington | September 1, 2009 6:29 PM | Report abuse

There is every temptation to shoot the messenger in this case, given that Will's credibility account is emptied over Bush years.

But at the end of the day, potency of his message does not go away. Andrew Sullivan at Atlantic has been emphatic for a while for the withdrawal along with many on Left.

Will President be bold in adopting 'low cost / low footprint' intervention strategy only and keeping laser focus on Pakistan?

Will is right - this is the time for President to show that genius. And in these matters it is his prerogative only; debilitating and compromised Senators are not involved to blame them.

Posted by: umesh409 | September 1, 2009 6:31 PM | Report abuse

In the reference you cite, I happen to agree with the assessment of Thomas H. Johnson in largest part. The effect of religion and tribal leadership is as underestimated in Afghanistan as it is in our own domestic affairs. For example, here in the U.S. we have today colleges that prohibit first amendment petition and assembly on the grounds that such freedoms are contrary to religion: why should we expect citizens of Afghanistan to favor our ideals of democracy over their religious beliefs? "It's hard to defeat an enemy if you don't understand him" says Johnson, and I agree.

I'll note considerable success in the President's foreign policy everywhere except Afghanistan: I can't find a good reason for the single anomaly, other than a fundamental misunderstanding that Johnson highlights. George Will is right in that it's time for the President to demonstrate a greater degree of genius regarding Afghanistan; however, the fact that Afghanistan has become a distraction and drain on resources can't become the primary consideration.

Posted by: rmgregory | September 1, 2009 6:43 PM | Report abuse

Will is often wrong, but you have to admit this is a well-written piece. And he doesn't even mention the need to take the war into the heart of Pakistan, which we don't have the resources to do. It seems like a no-brainer that we should go with the small footprint strategy.

Posted by: bmull | September 1, 2009 7:30 PM | Report abuse

Man, maybe healthcare has made me jumpy but I REALLY don't trust this. Wouldn't it be pretty characteristic of the Right to spend a few months vaguely talking about winding down Afghanistan, only to shellack the Dems for even entertaining the idea come November of next year? Y'know, sort of a "Grassley Strategy"?

Posted by: NS12345 | September 2, 2009 9:10 AM | Report abuse

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