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No Will, No Way

George Will is dismayed by American casualties in Afghanistan, unhappy about the length of our effort there, dismissive of the contributions of our NATO allies, contemptuous of the Afghan central government, and struck by the country’s backwardness.

I share many of these sentiments. But they are sentiments. It would be better to base a major change in our national security strategy on arguments--especially if you’re advocating a change from a policy that’s been supported for eight years by a bipartisan consensus, and that involves the area that was the staging ground for Sept. 11.

Will does seem to allow that we have a core national interest in Afghanistan--“to prevent re-establishment of al-Qaeda bases” there. He then makes a recommendation that would presumably achieve that goal--that “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, air strikes and small, potent special forces units, concentrating on the porous 1,500-mile border with Pakistan.”

But would this succeed in preventing the re-establishment of terror bases? This “comprehensively revised policy” doesn't sound much more engaged than U.S. Afghan policy in the 1990s. Will would have to explain why it would work better this time--or why the price of failure wouldn’t be higher than the price of continuing to prosecute the war with a revised counterinsugency strategy of the sort Gen. Stanley McChrystal has suggested.

Well, perhaps a counter-insurgency strategy simply can’t work. Writes Will: “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.”

But as the military historian Fred Kagan explains, counter-insurgency theory and experience suggest that if the Afghan National Army is expanded, as Gen. McChrystal proposes to do, and if there is a surge of several brigades of American forces “to bridge the gap between current Afghan capacity and their future capacity, while simultaneously reducing the insurgency’s capabilities,” then we would have roughly the number of forces necessary to carry out the strategy.

Will acknowledges in passing what seems to be another important national interest--Pakistan, “a nation that actually matters.” But Will never tries to show--counterintuitively--that retreat from Afghanistan would increase rather than decrease the chances of an acceptable outcome in Pakistan. And this is to say nothing of the broader consequences of defeat in the Afghan theater in the war against the jihadists. If the United States of America is driven out of Afghanistan by the Taliban, the group that hosted the Sept. 11 attackers--what then?

Will closes with an appeal to Charles de Gaulle: “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 squandered.”

But let’s be honest. Will is not calling on the United
States to accept a moderate degree of success in Afghanistan, and simply to stop short of some overly ambitious goal. Will is urging retreat, and accepting defeat.

As Will says, we have sent America’s finest to fight in Afghanistan. It is true that we have under-resourced and poorly strategized that fight. The right way to keep faith with our soldiers and Marines is for our national leaders now to support a strategy, and to provide the necessary resources, for victory.

By William Kristol  | September 1, 2009; 8:12 AM ET
Categories:  Kristol  | Tags:  William Kristol  
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Next: What About 9/11?


Mr. Kristol never saw a war he didnt like.

We have no clear goal in Afghanistan any longer. Never a good thing. The Taliban is out of power, we've won. Time for the parade. If the Taliban comes back into power we can knock them out again in an afternoon. Okay maybe over a three day weekend.

There can be no nation built on Afghanistan soil. Let us recognize this highfalutin talk for what it is: folly, hubris, vanity, neo-conservatism.

Posted by: MDD1 | September 1, 2009 8:50 AM | Report abuse

Maybe if we had not wasted all those years invading and occupying Iraq, which had absolutely nothing to do with the 9-11 attacks, the situation in Afganistan would not be so bleek.

Posted by: nitrames | September 1, 2009 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Hang on a moment. The "right way to keep faith with our soldiers and Marines" is to make sure no more of them are thrown into this unwinnable mess. I also wish people advocating combat had some personal stake in the issue instead of its being something that someone else should do.

Posted by: brucemcarnes | September 1, 2009 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Which is more hilarious:
1. That the totally discredited Kristol equates the quagmire in Afghanistan with "national security policy" (because he is incapable of distinguishing between policy, tactics and plain ole' 'war'), or;
2. That the rabid, warmongering, right is chewing off its' own legs?

Oh the hilarity!

Posted by: Heerman532 | September 1, 2009 9:04 AM | Report abuse

Am I missing something? Is Afghanistan the only place on the planet where Al-Qaeda can set up training camps? And if it is, and there aren't any right now, why is anyone worried about another attack? And even if we had no troops there, couldn't our satellites or reconnaissance aircraft see if camps were being set up? And if they can't, I would assume Al-Qaeda could set up camps anywhere, including say, Montana. It is such a shame to hear the troops make statements that they are protecting us. Sounds so much like Vietnam—we were "protecting the world from the spread of Communism."

Posted by: TheFactsMan | September 1, 2009 9:06 AM | Report abuse

As a COWARD who sought a deferment to flee from any patriotic obligations to serve in the Vietnam War, it is way too easy for you to suggest we spill more blood on Afghan soil.

Your lily liveried war mongering disgusts me.

Signed as a Vietnam Vet.

Posted by: TEDU | September 1, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Bill Kristol, once again, proves George Will's assertion that genius is sometimes knowing when to stop, providing the perfect counter-example.

Robert Henry Eller
Milan, Italy

Posted by: robert_h_eller | September 1, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse

As if we didn't have enough of McDonnell's thesis from Robertson's pretend Huckabee CBN University to remind us of the days of Dan Quayle and Republican "family values" we have the relic Shecky urging us to send more of our poor and minority children off to war.

What about al-Qeada bases in Pakistan, Shecky, where your neocons made a deal with Musharraf to hide them and Bush family friend Bin Ladin?

Posted by: coloradodog | September 1, 2009 9:20 AM | Report abuse

I see that Mr. Kristol is continuing the same neocon nonesense that got us into the debacle of Iraq. Or, as others have pointed out, Kristol has never seen a war he didn't like as long as he wasn't the one doing the fighting. As one who served in Vietnam it has always gauled me when those who have never been in harm's way are so quick to send someone else's son or daughter to die in wars they themselves have no fear of being in. The person Kristol and others should be blaming for the potential loss of Afghanistan is one George W. Bush whose ineptitude and arrogance in the handling of the Iraq War could fill volumes.

Posted by: HeraclitusOfVA | September 1, 2009 9:20 AM | Report abuse

I have to say that from where I stand politically, Bill Kristol is a card-carrying Communist and, to make it worse, he's also a rabid apologist for the Obama Administration's Afghanistan Policy.

We have no strategic, long term interest there; no strategic metals, no oil, no strategic 'choke point' for land/sea/air traffic. Nothing. (We did the prospecting for heavy metals but the Afghans sold the contract to...the Chinese!)

Let's call it in, say FYVM to another corrupt Third World regime, and bring the boys home. It's not defeat if there's no real gains to be made.

Posted by: docwatson223 | September 1, 2009 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Every court needs a jester.

Why don't you form a steering committee with Fred Barnes, Mikey Gerson and Sarah Palin and figure out how to win the war with Islam, err Al Quaeda, err the Taliban....whoever, it really doesn't matter?

Long as we have a flag and bible everything will turn up alright!

Posted by: knutton | September 1, 2009 9:24 AM | Report abuse

I have a personal stake in this war: I have four friends who have been there already and are going back in the fall; one friend deploys right after his wedding.

I also have a cousin deploying in the fall. He is EOD and will be in harms way every time he's working - they call it working, crazy i know.

All of these soldiers have said that they'd 100% rather be in Afghanistan than Iraq. They all feel the Afghan people truly need us and want us there, and they can see the fear the normal citizenry has of the Taliban.

For those who say the Taliban is out of power, I challenge you to prove that.

Many compare this war to previous wars in Afghanistan, but is different. Previous Afghan wars were between Afghans and foreign countries. This war is being fought by the US against a group who does not belong in that country either, a group that will move if needed, just to control another vulnerable people. The Afghans truly want the US soldiers to succeed. The US soldiers want to succeed.

Many US soldiers believe success will come in two ways, first militarily pushing Taliban members out of major cities. Second, by using social work to convince younger populations to reject the Taliban's beliefs.

I find myself in a quandary. I abhor war, but completely support the family and friends I have involved in it. I see this from both side. I see the effects.

Posted by: mattdevir | September 1, 2009 9:31 AM | Report abuse

First off, why does a nationally respected newspaper give Mr. Kristol a voice? Boggles the mind doesn't it? Second, Mr. Kristol is passionate about fighting elective, unnecessary war/s down to the last drop of someone else's kid's blood. The man is a warmongering coward who makes this active duty Air Force member sick to his stomach every time he spouts some new way to get my fellow servicemembers killed or maimed for no good reason

Posted by: BurlS | September 1, 2009 9:32 AM | Report abuse

The most rational policy would be to just use Intelligence to monitor the presence of al-Quaeda in the country, and once established to some confirmable extent they should be attacked. The Afghan Taliban should be left alone as they don't threaten America. People who dream of clear situations and outcomes might see this proposal as naive and even laughable but war, given the large negatives of waging it, should only be chosen in extremis. The USA, vis-a-vis Afghanistan, is NOT in that position now.

Posted by: rvanden | September 1, 2009 9:34 AM | Report abuse

I couldn't believe at the onset of this war that anyone had read the history of the Afghan wars fought by the Brits in the 1840's and 1880's, with similar results as we are having today. The word "shifting" can describe their experiences and ours today. Sand, heat, populace, loyalties and purpose. Kipling wrote "When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains, And the women come out to cut up your remains..." No-one ever wins in Afghanistan, especially the people there.As the saying goes, people who don't read history are doomed to repeat it. We in America don't like to admit we were wrong, but it may be the sign of a strong culture to admit it and move on (and out).

Posted by: jhogg | September 1, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Oh my God.

I agree with Will Kristol. I am now shaken to my very core.

Didn't see that one coming...

Posted by: alkuth | September 1, 2009 9:39 AM | Report abuse

If Mr. Kristol is going to debate Mr. Will,
my money is on George Will. Whether it be the Afghan war or making taffy. George Will
is a little to the right which is hard to understand but Kristol is so far to the right it borders on insanity. He looks like a young fella, lets put a helmet on him and see how he does. My thinking is that he would be AWOL in an hour....

Posted by: georgecoldrenhotmailcom | September 1, 2009 9:40 AM | Report abuse

I think Bill Kristol is under a misapprehension. Neither he nor George Will sets U.S. foreign policy.

Anyway, Afghanistan is Obama's war, isn't it? In the campaign, didn't he say Afghanistan was the right war while Iraq was the wrong one? Can't pull out of Afghanistan -- that would mean Obama had made a mistake.

Posted by: liam358 | September 1, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Why would anyone pay any attention to what a chickenhawk writes about war? Let Kristol strap on his gear, go over there, get his ass shot at, come back and then write about telling us what a warmonger he is.

Posted by: Patriot3 | September 1, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse

The neo-con habit of ignoring history will never cease to amaze me. No nation, no matter how powerful, has ever been able to defeat an Afghan insurgency. Not the British Empire and not the Soviet Union (which was right next door to Afghanistan, as opposed to being on the other side of the world, like the US).

What George Will wrote was painful to read, and I don't want him to be correct about the hopelessness of our cause there; however, his argument is cogent and well-reasoned. And the Post follows up Will's logical analysis with a rebuttal by an insubstantial lightweight like Bill Kristol? Having Kristol rebut George Will is like Bill Nye the Science Guy rebut Stephen Hawking! Give me a break! If being wrong was a virtue, Bill Kristol would be a saint. I'm appalled at the WaPo for bringing him on as a columnist.

Posted by: cclark17 | September 1, 2009 9:42 AM | Report abuse

When the discredited, neo-con clown Kristol resorts to quoting the equally discredited neo-con clown Fred Kagan for support, it's time to stop reading.

The Kagans and the Kristols: genetically impoverished families whose only distinguishing feature is a generational attachment to Zionism, right-wing extremism, and the perpetually wrong-headed clucking that comes from chickenhawks.

Posted by: WhatHeSaid | September 1, 2009 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Well, Bill, as I always say to my friends who want to launch an excursion into a country that pursues a policy they don't agree with--form your own army and do it yourself. You never had the courage to serve when your country needed you during Vietnam; here's your chance to redeem yourself.

Posted by: payoung1 | September 1, 2009 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Strange things happen. That a conservative columnist like George Will could push me, a flaming liberal, over the line into opposing the Afghan war is very strange. The government in place now is probably worse than South Vietnam's. The rhetoric from our military is more honest---there was always a light at the end of the tunnel in Vietnam---but the reality seems as bleak. I do feel for the Afghan people, especially the women. But until the Afghans get it together, I increasingly share Will's pessimism that we can do anything. I haven't made up my mind entirely that the war is unwinnable, but Will's dismal assessment seems valid. I think it could have been won 8 years ago, something neither Wills nor that twit Kristol bother to mention. One more
Bush legacy.

Posted by: JosephGAnthony | September 1, 2009 10:07 AM | Report abuse

I agree with the comments of Thomas Johnson in the accompanying " Is the war in afghanistan worth fighting ?", to the effect that even if it is it cannot be fought to win with the present strategy.

The American people have shown time and again since WW II that they are not willing to trade American blood indefinitely for that of the members of backward,prolific, ignorant countries . Either our government must be able and willing to forge a strategy using our technological and other advantages for victory , or the strategy's legs will be cut off before victory. It happened in Vietnam, seems to be happening in Iraq ; Eisenhower prevented it in Korea only by threatening use of nuclear weapons.

Nation-building over the foreseeable future in Afghanistan is folly, as it is turning out to be in Iraq. Nation-controlling, on the other hand, involves backing the devil or devils most agreeable to us, to destroy or dominate the other devils with the only instrument known to work in those countries, the threat or use of superior violence. Since we aren't willing to use it, we should allow others to do as long as they are not our enemies. We should have been able to find such a fellow in Iraq , and we may have to in Pakistan.

Posted by: bibliotecario | September 1, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

---George Will is a little to the right which is hard to understand but Kristol is so far to the right it borders on insanity.

georgecoldrenhotmailcom, Im afraid you've lost your sense of direction. Bill K aint right wing. They dont claim him. At some point, the Left figgured the only way to beat the Right was to join it. Hence neo conservatism. Long live the Paleo-cons!

Posted by: MDD1 | September 1, 2009 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Bill Kristol is part of a diminishing group of thinkers on the right who are so deeply--almost erotically--committed to an old, romantic notion involving American Triumphalism. Oddly, this devotion is grounded in old classical liberal notions about America's role in the world. Thise notions held sway during the Cold War and America's committment to contain Soviet expansion into the West.

Like the Cold War, Kristol and his zealous compadres, are still mired in the conviction that the war still rages on, eerily reminiscent of those Japanese holdouts on remote idslands during WWII who didn't get the "memo" that the war had ended. Kristol and this sorry little band still delude themselves that America has some weird form of Manifest Destiny to bring the American way of life to the rest of the world--whether the world really wants that way of life or not.

Apparently they don't. And judging from recent metrics that define the greatness of nations, they may be onto something since America now ranks somewhere in the middle of nations deemed to be advancing.

Posted by: jaxas | September 1, 2009 10:22 AM | Report abuse

BUT of course.

Kristol is one of those, the zionist neocons, who never heard of a war they didn't like.

Especially if it benefits Israel, who likes war in the ME. Or war anywhere.
Anytime. Anybody read PNAC?

Do, there they are. War now, war forever.

Posted by: whistling | September 1, 2009 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Kristol is NOT an ignoramus. However, the man is an intellectual cheat and liar. He cannot utter a sentence without some fraud or lie creeping into it. If he truly believed his positions, he would not need to lie and cheat and deceive to support them. The man is and always has been a fraud. Even the gutless NY TImes couldn't stomach him.

Posted by: waveskiboy | September 1, 2009 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Gee, Billy, maybe if we had concentrated on fighting the people who actually attacked us on 9/11, and not wasted 8 years and countless lives and trillions on getting oil companies back into Iraq, things might be different in Afghanistan.

Posted by: drindl | September 1, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: brian_away | September 1, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Kristol is Right. Kristol is right even more often than Krauthammer because he does not have the anti-Palin phobia of Charles. Signed, Rumsfeld (remember? the winner of Afghanistan)

Posted by: JohnGalt9 | September 1, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

How many drugs does Kristol have to take to be able to live with himself?

Posted by: bigbrother1 | September 1, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Why are these War Criminals allowed to write their propaganda? Kristol should be under arrest and confinement, waiting for his call from the International Criminal Court.

These cowardly stay-at-homers instigated naked aggression against a sovereign People, murdering hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians!!

Did Kristol, The Dubya, Cheney, Rummy, Addington, and the rest think they could commit the mass murder of Shock and Awe and just walk away??

Guess what, Billy-boy???

Posted by: gkam | September 1, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

American Triumphslism...yes, that's the
aim of the Kristols of the world.

But only so American power can do Israel's bidding. Into Iraq, Bomb Iran...wade into Russian interests.

They think big, and long term. And as the brilliant poster above notes, they are not
right wing: they are zionist.

They rode high and damaged wide during the hapless Bush administration, Wolfowitz, Perle, Feith, Kristol, the well known names. Including certain Wall Street deregulators who loaded up on money now elsewhere.

Look where we are. And Kristol andthe Washington Post are not pleased to be waylaid. But they ever stop.

Posted by: whistling | September 1, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

I usually don't agree with Mr. Kristol on much, but here I agree completely.

Posted by: ablankinship | September 1, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

NATO's "social services" strategy consists of just about everything except selling Girl Scout cookies. "Counterinsurgency" is not a strategy and, despite Kagan's notions, Afghanistan is not Iraq. I'm all in favor of killing terrorists and US domination and intervention in any region we choose, but Afghanistan is for losers. And it's time to re-examine the NATO "nation-building" doctrines as espoused by Jaap and his successor, and get out of an organization that has as its security aims digging sewers rather than decimating the enemy.

Posted by: jcmccr | September 1, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

"I remember back in the late '90s when Ira Katznelson, an eminent political scientist at Columbia, came to deliver a guest lecture to an economic philosophy class I was taking...

"... Prof. Katznelson described a lunch he had with Irving Kristol[Bill Kristol's father and founder of the American Enterprise Institute] back during the first Bush administration. The talk turned to William Kristol, then Dan Quayle's chief of staff, and how he got his start in politics. Irving recalled how he talked to his friend Harvey Mansfield at Harvard, who secured William a place there as both an undergrad and graduate student; how he talked to Pat Moynihan, then Nixon's domestic policy adviser, and got William an internship at The White House; how he talked to friends at the RNC and secured a job for William after he got his Harvard Ph.D.; and how he arranged with still more friends for William to teach at UPenn and the Kennedy School of Government. With that, Prof. Katznelson recalled, he then asked Irving what he thought of affirmative action. "I oppose it", Irving replied. "It subverts meritocracy."

Posted by: WhatHeSaid | September 1, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Um, nothing has been accomplished in Afghanistan. Leaving now puts us right back at square one with extremists free to plot against the US. Maybe in fact the correct answer is that Bush never should have set foot in Iraq and wasted all of our resources there.

Posted by: unpluggedboodah | September 1, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Thank you, mattdevir, for providing an actual front-line perspective of the confusing situation in Afghanistan.

Too bad I had to waste time wading through the barely intelligible bashing and groundless character attacks to find a substantiated opinion on the matter.

Posted by: hld1066 | September 1, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

"I also wish people advocating combat had some personal stake in the issue"

They do. It's called an "Investment Portfolio"....


Posted by: Tomcat3 | September 1, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Somebody tell Billy-boy that we don't take war advice from cowardly draft-dodgers.

Posted by: gkam | September 1, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

hey obama...
if you want to fight a war, then fight a war...
if you want to be the global policeman, then establish martial law and enforce it while you nation build..
1. outlaw possession of all firearms and ordinance; use summary trials and executions for those found with the contraband..
2. establish a dusk to dawn curfew..have your predators and gunships kill everything that shows up outside after dark on infra-red; if it moves at night it is evil..
3. time to get out the agent orange and paraquat for the poppies and cannabis..
4. close down the border with pakistan..kill anything that moves within a mile of the border..
5. make the golf delta house of saud pay the entire bill..
then maybe you can nation build..but probably way you are gonna turn a-ghan into fairfax county..

Posted by: w04equals666 | September 1, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

I am stunned to agree with something Bill Kristol advocates, as his record on being dead wrong about *everything* would put DiMaggio to shame, but I am all for this. We should have spent the last eight years building Afghanistan, not goin' prospectin' for oil, WMDs, and spider holes in Iraq.

Posted by: hayesap8 | September 1, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Kristol is a zionist with one hidden objective: protecting apartheid israel at any cost. Five years from now the US will be bleeding in afghanistan/iraq and china will become the new superpower.

Posted by: MumboJumboo | September 1, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

I can't think of another individual appearing in a recognized / respected news format who has so consistently been proven to be wrong about issue after issue as Bill Kristol. Hard to imagine anyone reading his stuff anymore, much less paying for him to produce it.

Posted by: ans15 | September 1, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Nothing worse than a chickenhawk hypocrite.

Tell ya what Willy boy, why don't you run down to your nearest Army or Marine recruiter and sign up for a 4 year hitch. You're probably in poor physical condition, being a desk jockey all your life so Force Recon or Special Forces are out but you'd make a good Forward Observer.

But please, put your arse where your mouth is for once, or, SHUT UP.

Posted by: rcubedkc | September 1, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

I just want to thank G. Dubya for wasting American lives, public patience and a boat load of taxpayers' bucks on a war that had NOTHING TO DO with 9/11... Our 43rd mistake sold Iraq as America's response for those who "hit us" on 9/11 - - and all those Neanderthal, knuckle-dragging right-wingers bought it hook, line and sinker. They even wanted to go one step further and (gasp!) rename French Fries as "Freedom Fries." What imbeciles.

Perhaps the saddest part of all this is that America no longer has the desire or wherewithal to fight the war we should have been fighting all along - against those who actually "hit us."

Heck of a job, Brownie... I mean, G. Dubya!!!!

Posted by: ANTGA | September 1, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

George Will...Bill Kristol...?
George Will...Bill Kristol...?
Who to choose? Equally moronic, equally obsequious, equally and wildly self-important. Both horrifically wrong about everything in the last ten years or so, yet both able to maintain institutional credibility against overwhelming evidence of moral and intellectual bankruptcy. Will loves baseball, Kristol loves war.

How is one to choose?

Posted by: rpasley | September 1, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Will is hardly my favorite columnist on any issue, but at least he's not an Israeli fifth columnist like Kristol.

Posted by: misterjrthed | September 1, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Reading these defeatist posts makes me so glad that such outlook did not prevail during WWII; otherwise we'd all be speaking German. As it is, the defeatists desire to flee from Afghanistan - and to give the Taliban a victory - can only do harm in the future, one where Pakistan (remember them) becomes vulnerable to the extremists. I wish these defeatists could do more than just live in the moment - rather than 10 years down the road. History is not just in the past.

Posted by: CubsFan | September 1, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

May be the best way of bringing "peace" and "prosperity" to Afghanistan is by eliminating all the natives and replacing them with Americans like you did with the native Indians. Then rename the country "Afameristan"

Posted by: awabnavi | September 1, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Kristol uses Fred Kagen as a source? Only in bizzaro world can one discredited neocon quote another discredited neocon and still get published. Who is paying the Post to publish these guys?

Maybe, just maybe, George Will is taking up the role of true conservative that Bob Novak played so well.

Of course, Kristol will never admit that it's his Middle East policies that are the root cause of why they attack us. And when we follow his policies, there's more of us to kill on their turf.

It's a sad day when Bin Laden is far smarter than the folks who have such a huge role in shaping our foreign policy.

Posted by: mfray | September 1, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Always love it when Kristol and Company volunteer someone else's kid to do its bidding. Hey "Billo" what unit did you serve with in Vietnam? What...., you didn't? Oh I didn't know you had more important things to do, you sound just like your friend Dick Cheny.

Served 22 years US Navy, two sons currently on AD. Marine Corps 2nd Lt and Navy LTjg. I think we have done our share!

Posted by: TippyCanoe | September 1, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

I think there ought to be a "special draft", with no deferrments for the male members (ages 18 - 24) of the families of neo-cons like William Kristol and Fred Kagan. And let's make sure these boys get the opportunity to serve with an infantry unit (no rear echlon jobs for them).

Wonder how "gung ho" they would be about America's imperial wars, if members of their very own family was having to spill some blood for the cause?

Posted by: sibwalker | September 1, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

HEY CUBSFAN, see what happens when you follow blindly and wrap yourself in the American flag?? You follow ignorant and inept leaders - like Gee Dubya - into battles that hardly benefit the country.

Don't get me wrong, some battles have to be waged - WWII, Korea to name a few. But you war mongers on the right never met a war you didn't relish and goose bumps over. That'll show the rest of the world you don't mess with the U.S.!

Try using your big head to evaluate arguments for war on a case by case basis rather than using the other head to get off at the very idea of war.

Oh and waste your 5th grade-level history lesson on your kids rather than adults.

Posted by: ANTGA | September 1, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

"Will does seem to allow that we have a core national interest in Afghanistan..."

What does that even mean? Terrorists can operate anywhere. Unless we're planning on invading the world, or at least all of the middle east and northern Africa at the moment, this is a nutty idea.

He seems to be taking the same view of Lyndon Johnson... it would be terrible to lose a war now that we've put so much into it. Some people need to brush up on their history.

Posted by: ihatelogins | September 1, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

I am sure the Army would be happy to let you enlist and would ship you over, Bill. You could strip off your cheer uniform and put down your pom-poms stand on the front lines and do YOUR part in defeating the enemy.

Posted by: upthedownspout | September 1, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Kristol for the following reason:

Our failure in Afghanistan may well lead to complete failure of the Pakistan state--a very scary thought.

Better to have Pakistan work with us to squeeze the Taliban between the two than to leave the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan to the wolves.

Posted by: jwspooner | September 1, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

We have no clear goal in Afghanistan any longer. Never a good thing. The Taliban is out of power, we've won. Time for the parade. If the Taliban comes back into power we can knock them out again in an afternoon. Okay maybe over a three day weekend.


We are truly blessed with an abundance of foreign policy expertise, especially from people who have never actually had to make a decision on the subject.

Just a reminder, the current president ran on a campaign that highlighted Afghanistan as a necessary war. This is the same president who was held up for his prescient judgment on Iraq. Yet just eight short months into his term and his supporters are abandoning this position in droves, well before he has had time to implement a successful Afghan strategy.

With friends like these . . .

Posted by: JamesSCameron | September 1, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Bill, you just can't get enough of war, can you. Look up your nearest recruiter.

Posted by: jckdoors | September 1, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Really, Mr. Kristol? .... OK then. Let's go ahead and carpet bomb every acre in Afghanistan just like 1945 Germany got. ... Fine. ... But only after 'we' completely encircle Afghanistan's entire border and 'coon dog' every single cave in those mountains. ... What's that time frame? Less than 100 years or more than? ... Get real.

Posted by: deepthroat21 | September 1, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Kristol, you managed to keep me from vomiting today. And while he is considered by some a tireless warmonger, I cant help but give him credit. At least he is consistent. (unlike Will)

This war is the only recent war I have supported. Victory in the AfPac war is essential, as our true enemies who successfully attacked US soil during the past administration dwell and plot within. Iraq, on the other hand was a misguided, preemptive debacle and never received my full support.

A new strategy is required. More troops are required. I find it troubling that many of the original "surge" crowd find themselves breaking ideology for the AfPac war after crowing over their perceived "success story" in Iraq.

Time to man up and fight the real enemy instead of the specter.

Posted by: trident420 | September 1, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

If Afghans want a viable country, THEY have to build it.

Every time they let terrorists set up bases, we come in and blow up the bases and a little extra as an incentive for them to get their act together.

Posted by: bug45 | September 1, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Hey Billie, why don't you put on some combat gear and put your own butt in the field? You real sicken me. Our best and brightest are getting killed and injured, the country cannot afford it, we are once again arming a third world army who are helping us (and when we are gone the weapons will be used against us!), and we are absolutely not making the world safer for Americans. you are just pathetic

Posted by: packerfan2 | September 1, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Oh, no! Someone on the Right exercised freedom of thought and expression and dared state the obvious. Quick! Even though he's been a loyal ally and friend for decades, organize an attack campaign to discredit him.

Posted by: skrut003 | September 1, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Point to remember: America is phenomenal at carrying out war... there's no doubt that no force on Earth can fight America toe-to-toe. However, America is NOT adept at nation building. So, the question is: what are we trying to do there? Is it the whack-a-mole doctrine of hitting the Taliban or Al Qaeda as they pop up? Or is it to transform Afghanistan into a legitimate country, with a legitimate economy, legitimate government, laws, institutions, etc? If it's the former, you have to ask what's our goal and what's our exit strategy? If it's the latter, we'll be there for decades at a cost of trillions... and our track record of nation building????

Posted by: ANTGA | September 1, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

bug 45, we can blow up those bases as george will suggested; drones, special forces etc. We do not need entire batallions there

Posted by: packerfan2 | September 1, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

I am enjoying the fracture in the Right's view of the war. I thouhgt there was only one way to be a Patriotic American. Who knew!! Any way the difference may be Mr. Will has a son in uniform and for Mr. Kristol all this is an academic exercise that also happens to be beneficial to his political ambitions. Just saying!!

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

While it is repugnant for me to support ANY retreat from the defense of freedom anywhere, I do agree with Will's recognition of the limitations faced by the US in Afghanistan. The parallels with VietNam are correct in this sense: the military policies being used in Afghanistan by this administration (perhaps the previous one, too?) are similar to the "calibrated" ones used by the Johnson administration in VietNam. Both were (are)no-win policies and both were (are) wrong. I will support a WIN policy in Afghanistan, as I did in VietNam until 1966, when I realized that what was being done there was tantamount to criminal. This may or may not be possible in Afghanistan, but since a change in tactics DID work in Iraq, perhaps a change in tactics in Afghanistan, as suggested by Kagan should be given a chance. But to support a No Win policy as will probably continue to be conducted by this administration, is indefensible. And as disastrous as it may be for the future of freedom and for this nation, in that case, I do agree with George Will and not with Bill Kristol. This president does not deserve the support of the american people in what he is trying to do, not only in Afghanistan, but in the rest of the world. Not another american life is worth losing one more day in Afghanistan under his policies. Diego Trinidad, Ph.D.

Posted by: dtrinidad3 | September 1, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Kristol has always been and will continue to be the ultimate chicken hawk, and a part of the axis of NWO. There is no war he does not like, as long as he doesn't fight.

I agree with George Will, for the first time ever, that we need towind down and prepare to leave Afghanistan.

Posted by: Single_Payer | September 1, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

William Kristol graduated in 1970 from The Collegiate School, a preparatory school for boys located in Manhattan. Kristol received a college deferment during the Vietnam war and did not enter military service. In 1973, Kristol received a B.A. from Harvard, graduating magna cum laude in three years.

Posted by: gipper01 | September 1, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Kristol should read the opinions of Jim Webb and Russ Feingold along with those of George Will in regard to the hapless war in Afghanistan. His reliance on Fred Kagan as an authority would be comic if the situation weren't so tragic. Too bad readers of WaPo's print edition can't read the posters' responses to Kristol's cruel and crazed columns. Most of us will never forget his and Kagan's PNAC background, nor should we.

Posted by: dangerosa | September 1, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Kristol,

may I offer one small correction?

The war against the civilian population is not a policy that's "been supported for eight years by a bipartisan consensus."

At first, the war effort started as a war against al-Qaeda. It evolved into a war to depose the Taliban government. But for the last 6 years, it has been a brutal occupation to subjugate ordinary civilians under our martial rule.

While it is true that a bipartisan majority of the 535 Members of Congress have been reaping great financial rewards by perpetuating this war against the principles that America stands for,
and in response have supported this war,
there has not been anything like a national consensus in support of this war since around 2005.

Without clarifying that error, your article could be interpreted as an attempt to propagandize the public into believing that, deep down, they really have supported this war in the past, and still do today, contrary to their own recollections.
Do you happen to work for the Rendon Group ?

Posted by: BrianX9 | September 1, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

We can't continue to fight the war in Afghanistan because we are already spread too thin as it is. Sending our soldiers there 3, 4, 5 times is wrong even as they are willing to return again and again to be with their brothers and sisters in arms and shows how "imperialized" our army has become as we fight war after war in this war on terror. Were Afghanistan not such a hopeless fight, I might go along with the counter insurgency strategy but as it is tribal hatreds will not lend itself to ending the fight or improving life there. I feel sorry about the women and children but let's get our soldiers out of there!!!!

Posted by: karmour1 | September 1, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Here are few Kristol Whoppers:

February 20, 2003
If we free the people of Iraq, we will be respected in the Arab world... and I think we will be respected around the world.

March 1, 2003
Very few wars in American history were prepared better or more throughly than this one by this president.

April 28, 2003
The first two battles of this new era are now over. The battles of Afghanistan and Iraq has been won decisively and honorably.

December 17, 2006
Barack Obama is not going to beat Hillary Clinton in a single democratic primary. I'll predict that right now.

Posted by: gipper01 | September 1, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

I like the first two "Kristol Whoppers" posted by Gipper01.

Much like Paul Wolfowitz, Kritol is wrong so often.

Posted by: ANTGA | September 1, 2009 2:13 PM | Report abuse

TEDU, you hit it perfectly. Kristol doesn't mind playing fast and loose with our troops as long as they're serving to assist the "should be discredited yesterday" American Enterprise Institute and their punctured delusion of grandeur, the Project for a New American Century. Kristol is an ideologue whose ideology was shown as nothing but an empty jingoist fantasy for America to rule the world. This is why Dick Cheney is still out there reminding everyone what a great hero and patriot he is for keeping us safe after allowing us to be attacked on his watch, not George W.'s, his. Kristol isn't worried about his children or your children or our country, he just wants his ideology to be valid again, just like Cheney.

Posted by: curtb | September 1, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Why are people so eager to send "other folks" to their death? It's so simple to send other folks' children, mothers, fathers, friends, and other relatives to die while sitting back here and crying out for more. War should be the ultimate solution ONLY after all else has failed. Or, maybe we should learn to keep our noses out of areas we don't need to be in.

Posted by: TJO73 | September 1, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

And I say that as the son of a career Air Force non-commissioned officer and somebody who has worked around the military most of his adult life. These are wonderful people. Let's condemn them to die only when absolutely necessary!

Posted by: TJO73 | September 1, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

I hear a chicken hawk clucking.

Posted by: win_harrington | September 1, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

I couldn't agree with you more TJ073, and I say that as someone who served in the Air Force for five years in the 1980's.

Chicken Hawks like Kristol are, as they say in Texas, all hat and no cattle.

Posted by: gipper01 | September 1, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Would (has) this disgraced neo-con send his children or other loved ones to fight in this conflict? If not, his arguments have no credibility. We entered Iraq for either the misguided promise of oil resources or in a surrogate role to protect Israel from an enemy...or both. The fiasco we created in this region has just spread the problem beyond the Afghan and Iraqi borders and now is surely uncontrollable. We never seem to learn the limits of military power against primitive ideologies. There are more rational ways to fight terrorism. Maybe we need smarter leaders, not more troops.

Posted by: sero1 | September 1, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

No one takes the Kristols and Kagans seriously in national security affairs anymore. If American support for our efforts in Afghanistan is flagging, it is because the neocons ignored the challenges there and instead embarked on their neocolonial adventure in Iraq. Neocons like Kristol and the Kagans lacked a basic understanding of the national security issues relating to Afghanistan and Pakistan (one reason the Bush administration dropped the ball in the months prior to 9/11). To this day, the neocons do not understand how destructive the invasion and long-term occupation of Iraq were to our larger national security interests. Basically, Kristol does not understand how to think strategically--it's the only explanation for his decision to ignore 9/11 and chase after old demons in Baghdad.

Posted by: Ladyrantsalot | September 1, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

sero 1 this isn't about Israel, but its gonna be if the rest of the world does not do something to stop Iran. That is an existential threat to them and man its gonna hit the fan if Israel hits iran

Posted by: packerfan2 | September 1, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Why did you not mention the misguided decision to invade Iraq under the premise of terrorism and WMDs? After all, weren't you a big proponent of that war? Did you not understand the importance of Afghanistan in geo-politics or did you not understand that the terrorists were for the most part camped out in the mountains over there?

I'm sorry...but listening to you is against my better judgement given your brilliant analytical skills! Go back to being a cheerleader for Sarah Palin.

Posted by: chefra | September 1, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Is this not the same Bill Kristol that gave his "seal of approval" for Sarah Palin to his neocon compatriots? Is this not the same Bill Kristol that supported our wasted efforts in Iraq? Now he purports to be the expert on military actions in Afghanistan? Why does The Post even waste time, effort and space giving Mr. Kristol an avenue to "display" his arrogance (and ignorance).

Posted by: TonyP55 | September 1, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

George Will is wrong about everything except for his comments on baseball. Bill Kristol is just plain wrong about everything. My head hurts.

Posted by: blogenfreude | September 1, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse

As long as he doesn't have to face any danger, Bill has never met a war he didn't like.

Why the Post continues to publish a thoroughly discredited and misguided mouthpiece for the "ownership society" I'll never know.

Posted by: SteveBurns1947 | September 1, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: GTFOOH | September 1, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Why don't you, Bill O'Dummy, Psycho Von Limbaugh, Miss Piggy Palin, Dick-Head Cheney and his Dumb Blonde, and Insanity volunteer to fight in the Texas Moron's war?

Posted by: analyst72 | September 1, 2009 3:52 PM | Report abuse


But if Kagan and Kristol's kids were to suit up and serve in war...

wouldn't it be in ghe Israeli army, sort of

like Rham Emmanuel did the week that 9/11 happened.

Posted by: whistling | September 1, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

George Will forgot all about 9/11 and our prime objective in Afganistan: To capture or kill Osama Bin Laden.

I for one don't think we should leave Afganistan without Bin Laden, dead or alive, unless we learn Bin Laden is somewhere else.

And for Kristol to mention any "bipartisan consensus" is a dream, or a nightmare, depending on your political party.

There was no "bipartisan consensus"!

Bush wasn't even interested in forming any "bipartisan consensus".

You call Bush coming out and announcing to the world that democrats don't support the troops if Congress didn't vote to give Bush $87 billion every six weeks or so, you call Bush's threats "bipartisan consensus"?

We did what we whatever we could do, not being the "party in power".

You Republifreaks add a lie here and there, but one thing for sure you never stop lying.

You psychos will be trying for the rest of your lives to re-write the nightmare known as the Bush Administration aka "The Culture of Corruption."

That's why crooks like Dick Cheney keep coming on TV pretending as if he has an ounce of legitimacy, because he's got the psychos out here lying for him, trying to pretend it never happened.

Posted by: lindalovejones | September 1, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

hell hath no fury like a non-combatant.

god! spare us from any further advise from this spineless neo-con worm.

Posted by: jimfilyaw | September 1, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Bill never saw a war he didn't like!

Why is the WaPo printing the rantings of this totally discredited neocon hack?

At least the NYT saw fit to fire the moron. If WaPo would fire him too, then we wouldn't have to deal with him in public anymore. He could stay in the airport restrooms with his National Review wingnuts full time.

Posted by: Heerman532 | September 1, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

So Mr Kristol wants to swap out wars. We have declared victory in Iraq. We are leaving. People were beginning to breath a bit easier hoping we might spare our troops the agony of repeated tours and stop loss while at the same time pulling back on the trillion dollar expense of perpetual war. The task is to prevent another attack on the US. There are many ways to accomplish that goal. Fighting a conventional war in Afghanistan is not one of them. We are loosing the hearts and minds of the few remaining Afghans who support us, just ask any of the NGO folks working there. I doubt very much if Mr. Kristol has ever talked with a poor Iraqi or Afghan. He is a high flyer. If he had he might be very surprised to hear what they think. Or not. Perhaps what they want does not matter to him. We need an exit strategy now!

Posted by: tarryh | September 1, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse

The facts are this: The Neo-Cons, like Kristol, are still integrated and embedded in the Military-Industrial Complex. Obama has not purged the Pentagon of Neo-Con careerists who see the now-familiar path from upper ranks of military service to lucrative jobs in the defense industry or Conservative Think-tank lobbyist positions.

It is in the best interest of the Top Brass to keep the wars going, to ensure they reap the benefits ($) that they feel they deserve. There is no other reason I can see that we belong in Iraq or Afghanistan one month longer. It may be physically impossible to remove 130,000 troops and materiel from Iraq in 30 days, but everyone should be out by Christmas. Afghanistan should be demilitarized, double-time. We need to pull the NATO troops out swiftly. The country can be monitored from afar and let the Taliban try to retake the population. If that is what Afghanis want, who are we to say different? If Al Qaeda attempts to restage, we can attack with our fancy drones.

It was the total indifference to FBI and CIA intelligence info, which was at the Bush Admins fingertips, that allowed the attack on Sept. 11, 2001. Bush and Cheney completely blew it and, as they had shown since, were totally incompetent and virtually brain-dead during the run up to that disaster as well as Hurricane Katrina and the breakdown of the financial markets. This was laissez-faire government on steroids. Afghanistan is a disaster and we must get out now!

Posted by: bruce19 | September 1, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who thinks Kristol has America's interest in mind, should consider buying my bridge in Brooklyn!

Neo-Con-In-Chief Kristol has two interests in mind:

1) Military-Industrial-Complex (to include the OIL and GAS industry
2) Isarel

Posted by: peaceful2008 | September 1, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Finally Will and Kristol disagree on something!!

This is the early sign of break between White/rich America and the Zionists

Posted by: peaceful2008 | September 1, 2009 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Will someone tell me when and how Afghanistan became a threat to the United States. Will someone tell me why we are having Americans die there to prop up a government that just conducted the most fraudulent election in history. Will is absolutely right. It is time to bring our troops home. Why is it that we Americans with the biggest army in the world are so fearful? Why is it we have been at war continually since 9/11? How is it all the other countries in the world seem to go on without invading or bombing other countries. How is it kids who sign up to defend our country are fighting to prop up foreign dictatorships?

Posted by: llyonnoc | September 1, 2009 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Once in a while, I watch "FOX News Sunday With Chris Wallace" just to hear how outrageous and stupid are the comments made by William Kristol.

I recommend you should try it once in a while, then you will shake your head and you will say "is this guy for real?"

Posted by: TheQuietOne | September 1, 2009 4:51 PM | Report abuse

How does Dan Quales's Chief of Staff rate a WP column? It is a joke, maybe?

Posted by: KrautKiller | September 1, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Ilyonnoc wrote: "Will someone tell me when and how Afghanistan became a threat to the United States....."

When: September 11, 2001 (not to mention earlier attacks on the Cole, etc.).

How: The Taliban, who thrive on both sides of the Afghani-Pakistan border, have long served as hosts for Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda.

If we leave, the Taliban will take control of Afghanistan once again. If you can think of another way to prevent this from happening, please elaborate.

Posted by: Ladyrantsalot | September 1, 2009 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Queen Victoria could have used another thousand men just like you to prop up the British Empire. We don't need apologists like you to defend imperialism.

Having the most powerful military in the world is a powerful intoxicant and drug for weak American presidents. We now know that both Obama and Bush are weak men unable to control the urge to play Commander-in-Chief. They squander American wealth and blood and get nothing of value in return.

Posted by: alance | September 1, 2009 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Fred Kagan's thinking about Afghanistan is quite delusional because it fails to understand (1) the vast experience of the Vietnam War, and (2)he still thinks the Iraq "surge" was a success when in fact its complete failure is now coming into view. He does articulate the "thinking" of the Washington D.C. national security establishment rather well. He needs to start sharpening up his arguments for the "Who lost Afghanistan?" debate.

Posted by: myerscpa | September 1, 2009 5:02 PM | Report abuse

None of Mr. Kristol's family members where hurt in Afganistan during the writing of this piece.

Nor will they ever be.

Posted by: August30 | September 1, 2009 5:07 PM | Report abuse

In 2003, Kristol said, "The Taliban are gone." I'm still waiting for the mea culpa on that one.

Posted by: MilitaryCommonSense | September 1, 2009 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Why did Bush let Saudi Arabians execute 911, let Bin Laden escape, and start 2 hopeless wars that have 0% to with Saudi Arabian terrorists?

Posted by: lichtme | September 1, 2009 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Billy Kristol...still fuming after being fired by the NYT. And the WaPo picks up this trash. Amazing.

Posted by: August30 | September 1, 2009 5:18 PM | Report abuse

"If we leave, the Taliban will take control of Afghanistan once again. If you can think of another way to prevent this from happening, please elaborate."


*clears throat and steps onto soap box*

Ladyrantsalot, Kristol, and all the other's who are so certain that they know how to change this land all move to Russia, convince them to invade again, certain again that they'll win...

We'll supply the Stinger Missiles to the opposing side again, and satisfy the war profiteers a bit (because we obvious can't heed General Eisenhower's warning now...) When they retreat again, we supply them again, they invade again, then we supply the opposing side again, to the war profiteers' joy...

Rinse and repeat... Rinse and repeat...

History... Read it sometime... If not, rinse and repeat...

Posted by: LeroyTheRoadie1 | September 1, 2009 5:38 PM | Report abuse

As more knowing people than you have sought to say, Bill, Afghanistan not only isn't Western Europe after WWII, it's not even Iraq. Foolhardy theories that presume too little are the end product of ideological preferences, little more and little else though...

I still want to know why the Afghan people still suffer for what the Taliban, whom by all reports they do not even like, did.

Posted by: tennisist2 | September 1, 2009 5:45 PM | Report abuse

I miss you at the Times-you are a first rate analyst and commentator. A perfect balance for the Times fuzzy leftism. You are right in urging the importance of a pacified or non-aligned Afganistan. The real question is whether we have the resources for a hands on military solution. We had a good oppurtunity there before you and your ilk diverted our treasure to a misbegotten haste to squander what little strategic advantage we had over Iran, by invading Iraq. At this state of play, do we have the resources to contain Iran and occupy and neutralise Afganistan? It could easily be that all we can expect to handle successfully is a more modest mission against Afganistan(together with more modest expectations) in addition to the much more pressing concern of containing Iran. Military misadventures are rarely costless, and it may be that we don't get a cost effective second bite at a safer Afganistan, now that our treasure and strategic advantages have been lost to the Iraq misadventure.

Posted by: george22_1999 | September 1, 2009 6:03 PM | Report abuse

Hang on a moment. The "right way to keep faith with our soldiers and Marines" is to make sure no more of them are thrown into this unwinnable mess. I also wish people advocating combat had some personal stake in the issue instead of its being something that someone else should do.

Posted by: brucemcarnes | September 1, 2009 9:03 AM
Personal Stake? Like 13 years as a Marine Infantryman, many overseas deployments and several combat tours? Is that enough of a stake? What sir, if I might ask, is your personal stake?
In the name of which policy will you raise your voice? Dropping everything and leaving the Afghanis to war it out like we did in Somalia (at least we needn't worry about the Afghanis ever deploying a pirate fleet)? Or perhaps following George Will's suggestion of staying offshore and trying to solve everything with Special Forces and Tomahawk missiles, golly why does that sound familiar?

Tell me sir, please enlighten this wretched, ignorant grunt: What SHOULD the plan be? Please reference the aspect(s) of YOUR personal or professional background on which you base your opinion...

Leaving a barren moonscape to become even less hospitable that what exists already will never be a "plan". Running is not a plan, running is what you do when a plan fails. Let me meet, in person, one person who is willing to tell me and my brothers and sisters that we have not met every challenge, achieved each objective. Let me meet just one of you who thinks we have failed. I will gladly educate you regarding the requisites of "failure".

That is an open invitation.

Posted by: thepearl0369 | September 1, 2009 6:19 PM | Report abuse

I agree with everything you've said here. Feeling uncomfortable about loss of life and treasure is natural. But that can not stop us from doing what is necessary, and unlike Iraq, the war in Afghanistan has always been absolutely necessary.

Nor would Will's "off-shore" war of drones and cruise missiles work, as evidenced by the fact that it has never worked there or anywhere else. On the ground, we can get much better intelligence, train Afghan forces, and shake someone's hand and tell them honestly why we're there. Will's way, we would quickly become nothing more than "the enemy from the sky."

He is right that Pakistan poses a growing threat. But leaving Afghanistan would obviously give the Pakistani extremists an even wider rein, and thus this can not sanely be an argument for withdrawal.

Posted by: mattflaschen | September 1, 2009 6:20 PM | Report abuse

If we do ”have a core national interest in Afghanistan—‘to prevent re-establishment of al-Qaeda bases"”—then we’d do well to pay attention to the history of their being there in the first place.

By 1998, the ideological and political leaders of all the main militant Islamist movements had come to realize that Osama bin Laden’s embassy bombing adventures had become a distracting nuisance. Saudi Arabia had tried him in absentia and had applied to the Afghan Taliban to extradite him for execution. The status accorded to guests under Islamic laws made this problematic, but the Taliban had taken the matter to an international Islamic court who found that he had nullified the Afghan’s obligation by launching warlike actions from their territory—they got the OK to turn him over to the Saudis. They were in the process of doing that on the very day in 1998 when the US deployed sixty-some-odd cruise missiles on Khost(in Afghanistan)in a clumsy attempt to kill him. Now bin Laden was again a guest in need of protection! In an instant he was transmogrified from outlaw to hero and favorite resistance symbol.

At this point, the only reason the Taliban are interested in us at all is that we’re in their country trying to mess with their culture and governance; and we’re there only because they want us out—rather like the Sundance kid in the opening scene of the movie: he was willing to leave, but only if the poker player asked him to stay!

Posted by: whatley1 | September 1, 2009 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Billy Kristol looks like THE JOKER. He is the cynical joker of the right. Consistently wrong.

Posted by: plomo55 | September 1, 2009 6:31 PM | Report abuse

We are not in Afganistan to win or lose a war.

We are in Afganistan to capture or kill Osama Bin Laden, and I feel like we need to get that done, unless he's just hanging out over at the ranch down in Crawford.

Posted by: lindalovejones | September 1, 2009 6:47 PM | Report abuse

"a bipartisan consensus": A euphemism for The People are about to be screwed.

Posted by: jpjrsf | September 1, 2009 7:29 PM | Report abuse

Why don't you lead by example you clueless phony?

Posted by: patrick3 | September 1, 2009 7:34 PM | Report abuse

I am amazed to be in general agreement with Kristol. Afganistan is where we should have been while all those lives were wasted looking for Cheney's WMD, and all that money spent with Cheney's no-bid contracts to friends and supporters. Afganistan matters. Iraq could have stewed in its own putrid and impotent juices while we accomplished something worth doing in Afganistan.

Posted by: frodot | September 1, 2009 7:34 PM | Report abuse

Bill, I'm a 53 year old Ex-Marine. If you are willing to go to Afghanistan, and fight the Taliban, I will gladly suit up and join You. I would hold my breath, because I'm sure you are willing o see others DIE, while you sit back and cheer them on.....(HYPOCRITE)

Posted by: austininc4 | September 1, 2009 8:04 PM | Report abuse

I love how people who have never been to war always have an opinion about how to honor soldiers (it always seems to be keep them there, away from their families, facing death).

Posted by: comeonpeople | September 1, 2009 8:32 PM | Report abuse

Billie Kristol is one of the most cowardly pieces of scum on the planet. How many loyal Bushies and neocons do you think put their career, jobs, educations and families on hold to go fight in one of Bush's wars? About zero. It's most often the case that those advocating most loudly for war are least likely to do any of the fighting or know anyone who does.

Posted by: j2na4c702 | September 1, 2009 8:35 PM | Report abuse

What a sleazy little draft-dodger he is..

Posted by: m_richert | September 1, 2009 8:39 PM | Report abuse

Kristol obviously did not get the War memo from the Republican Party.

Supporting the war effort is the only area the Republican Party of "no" has commended or worked on with Democrats and President Obama. The Republicans have been vocal until now supporting all actions to "win" the war of Choice that President Bush and VP Cheney's started.

George Will has signaled that the Republican Party will no longer work with Democrats for the good of the country in any endeavor, including winning the Wars Republicans started.

They now call it President Obama's war.

My position is that since it is President Obama's war, let's get out. Since they do not want to support health care legislation, let Democrats pass healthcare without them.

Posted by: SCVoter | September 1, 2009 8:42 PM | Report abuse

Kristol, why anyone provides a forum for you is beyond comprehension. You mention "victory" yet fail to describe what this "victory" looks like. Do you expect the Afghans to just lie down and bow to us? If another country should invade the United States, or begin bombing us into oblivion, we would fight to the bitter end. Yet, in your never ending arrogance, you expect the Afghans, or Iraqi's, to not do the same? There is no possible chance of "victory", just like there is no possible chance that you, or your Mensa friend Sarah Palin, will comprehend this concept.

Posted by: bretb | September 1, 2009 8:58 PM | Report abuse

It's water under the bridge, but we wouldn't be in this fix in Afghanistan today if Mr. Kristol and his neoconservative buddies hadn't lied us into that huge blunder in the deserts of Iraq. Absent that diversion, which had the added bonus of alienating almost the entire rest of the world, we may have gotten bin Laden, as Pakistan would have been much more willing to turn a blind eye to our attempts to root the actual 9/11 perpetrators out of its Federally Administered Tribal Areas and the whole world would be eager to help us with the nation building project in Afghanistan. It's very difficult to fathom why anyone still listens to any of the neoconservative nitwits, who have a long record of being wrong, time after time, going back a couple of decades.

Posted by: ejs2 | September 1, 2009 9:00 PM | Report abuse

Is there a failed wingnut or chickenhawk out there who Fred Hiatt won't give ink and space to?

This little jackal helped lie us into a war. He should be locked up.

Posted by: losthorizon10 | September 1, 2009 9:07 PM | Report abuse

While I tend to agree with Mr. Kristol on most domestic policy matters, I strongly obeject to the majority of his foreign policy prescriptions. In this instance, citing neoconservatives like Fred Kagan lends little credence to Mr. Kristol's arguments.

No good will come from a United States foreign policy that sends our military forces "abroad in search of monsters to destroy." As George Will observed on Sunday morning, the very "logic" that keeps American troops in Afghanistan would seem to require that we invade and attempt nation building in Somalia and Yemen as well. While Mr. Kristol might jump at this opportunity, the majority of Americans do not favor putting our troops in harm's way for the false ideal of democracy promotion.

In reading Mr. Kristol's piece I am reminded of a true conservative, Russell Kirk, who so rightly called out the neoconservatives as "often clever...seldom wise."

Posted by: ashcroft00 | September 1, 2009 9:13 PM | Report abuse

Forgive me for pointing out reality, but why did bin Laden become an anti-American terrorist? Why not an anti-French or anti-German terrorist? They have pretty much the same western values as Americans. They're equally decadent, equally modern, equally un-Islamic. So why didn't he hate THEIR freedoms?

He became an anti-American terrorist because he objected to the US military presence in his home country, Saudi Arabia.

Conservative Americans say that conservative Islam is just evil. Leave them alone and they will still attack. So tell me, was conservative Islam more progressive and enlightened before 1945? Because Muslims NEVER attacked the US in those days.

What was different? Well, the US had no forces in Muslim countries. It wasn't dictating their policies or propping up their dictators. It is an indisputable historical fact that back when the US left Muslims alone, Muslims left the US alone. In fact the US was by far their favourite Western country in those days, precisely because it had no history of colonialism in Muslim lands.

What happens today, to other Western countries who leave Muslims alone? None has been attacked. Not one.

Three western countries other than the US have suffered terrorist attacks in recent years: Britain, Spain and Australia. What do these three have in common? They were all part of the "Coalition of the Willing" that invaded Iraq. In the case of London and Madrid at least (I don't know about Bali) the arrested bombers explicitly said they'd turned terrorist because they were infuriated by the Iraq war.

Posted by: kevrobb | September 1, 2009 9:50 PM | Report abuse

Now people will say I'm justifying terror. No I'm not, I think they're murderers. But even murderers have motives. If you sleep with your neighbour's wife, and he finds out, and goes and shoots up a school in a mad rage, he's an unforgiveable mass murderer ... but the fact that his reaction was unjustifiable doesn't make your provocation right or clever.

Why did Americans put troops in Muslim countries in the first place? Why did they start interfering in Muslim governments in 1953? Was it to prevent Muslim attacks on the US? No, that problem did not then exist, nor did anyone forsee it. They put troops there as part of their grand strategy to overcome the Soviet Union, which, after the collapse of the SU, became a grand strategy to militarily dominate the planet simply because they thought they could.

So America fired the first salvo in the War Against Islam. In fact what's amazing is how many decades the Muslims took to respond.

One tactic that America hasn't tried in over 50 years has been simply not interfering in any Muslim countries. Not trying to build bases there. Not trying to dictate who governs them.

Is that so hard, so unthinkable? As a strategy, it worked remarkably well for the first 180 years of the American Republic, when (unless you count Barbary Pirates), they had no Muslim terrorist problems whatsoever.

Posted by: kevrobb | September 1, 2009 9:56 PM | Report abuse

The war in Afghanistan is both necessary and just EVEN THOUGH Kristol is for it, and even though the war in Iraq was insane and unnecessary. The Taliban, which will hold the country if we leave, is closely allied to Al Qaida, which has pledged to destroy us and continues to try and do so. Even at the cost of a thousand lives a year, we must stay there. It beats quivering in fear in our homes in the United States waiting for a newly empowered and territorially secure Al Qaida to strike us again here at home.

Posted by: dyinglikeflies | September 1, 2009 10:10 PM | Report abuse

You make fun of Will for being dismayed by the casualties in Afghanistan? You are really a wise-a88 Kristol. No empathy at all for the casualties. That figures you little wimp.

Posted by: repudar711 | September 1, 2009 10:21 PM | Report abuse

I think George is right. Let's get out. Afghanistan is a pit that no country can be built on.

While we're at it, let's get out of Iraq too. We can't afford anything anymore, with deficits like we're running. Time to pull in the economic horns via military pull outs. Japan's rethinking our troop occupation there. Let's accomodate them and bring those guys home too.

Time to fix our own financial selves. We're still strong enough to take care of business (self defense) in the event it's necessary. Let's no lose anymore American soldiers.

We have established two democracies over there. Now it's up to them to sustain. The Iraqi's have plenty of oil money, and the people like to vote on their government. We've accomplished a lot over their. Let's pull up. Will is right.

Posted by: reginacoeli | September 1, 2009 10:30 PM | Report abuse

Kristol…You are right again !
This is the most important war in the history of America.
I’m with you all the way.
This is so critical that I’m sure all Republicans and Conservatives will join me and demand that all of us who make more than $250,000 per year will be willing to accept a 15% Patriot Tax to pay for it.
We owe it to our troops and younger generations to make a small sacrifice today.

Posted by: gtyler | September 1, 2009 10:49 PM | Report abuse

What Kristol calls "sentiments", those of us in the REAL new american century call reality. We need to leave. We cannot fix this country. Most importantly, it is not worth the lives of our precious young sons and daughters.

Get yourself a WII and play war, Bill. It's game over for the rest of us.

Posted by: tmcproductions2004 | September 1, 2009 10:52 PM | Report abuse

Bill Kristol is a real Patriot! Albeit an Israeli ZIONIST Patriot. Meaning he endorses the unnecessary sacrifice of American lives to support Israels aggressive policies of war, genocide and blatent THEFT of land.

Therefore, it is no surprise that Mr. Kristol exhibits no real sympathy for the lost lives of our soldiers and insists we send more to their deaths.

Anything that leads to more dead Christians and Muslims works to give ZIONISTs an advantage with respect to their world domination plans. Hence the clear ZIONIST support for keeping America involved in endless wars against Muslim countries, even if it causes the financial collapse of America!

And for those idiots that think Obama is a Muslim, get real, money talks and Obama has already been bought and paid for by AIPAC, just like Bush was! Obama campaigned for CHANGE and yet, with respect to Afghanistan and Iraq, follows the Bush playbook (endorsed by AIPAC) to the letter.

Here comes the "new boss", same as the "old boss"!

Posted by: fixitj | September 1, 2009 11:08 PM | Report abuse

Gerson & Kristol attacking Will? Finally, they're eating their own!

Posted by: thrh | September 1, 2009 11:20 PM | Report abuse

There are only 40 million Pashtuns in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which ones are you going to fight. I'm just asking the question.

Posted by: repudar711 | September 1, 2009 11:21 PM | Report abuse

George Will and Newt Gingrich are two of the smartest minds and most respected voices out there. If Will is calling for an end you have to give it merit. I just wish all of the time and resources weren't wasted in Iraq, if not, AFGHAN would be over by now and we would have turned it around. Thanks for stepping out there Mr. Will, that took courage (the right wing will hit you from all angles, so be prepared, Kristol is only the beginning). I would be interested to see what Speaker Gingrich thinks. This situation is depressing.

Posted by: madstamina | September 1, 2009 11:40 PM | Report abuse


Herbert Hoover Greatest Depression Ever
Richard Nixon Worst Scam and Criminal in the History of Presidents, all thugs.
Ronald -Two Face -Reagan Iran Contra, Recession. three million illegals and amnesty,
Bush One Economic disaster
Bush and (Rasputin) Cheney Bankrupt Country, War for Oil, and unecessary, Torture, Depression, Corruption on a Massive scale, Halliburton stealing 70 Billion, 150,ooo innocents blown to pieces,small children women, and men, 4,500 of our best Killed , 36,000 maimed for LIFE because they lied to get us into this debacle,Increase from billions in surplus to almost two Trillion deficit, increase of six
Trillion debt, Smear Tactics (Max Cleland etc), nine million more illegals , whom the Conservatives hate, and yet people of America the Repig's still think they can govern . JUST TAKE A GOOD HARD LOOK my fellow countrymen, at the Repiglican Party. P.S and don't forget Gonzales, Mier, Brownie, Abramoff, Lay, Enron, Fey,and all of the Draft Deferment Brigade of the American Enterprise Institute.!! The Kennedy's died serving America and also joined the Military---- take a look at the Draft Deferment Brigadiers...... Cheney three deferments, Limbaugh three deferments boil on his big fat A$$, Hannity, Rove, O'Reilly, Krauthammer,Kristol, Frum, Boortz, all the Chicken_Hawks who promoted War of any Kind.!!

Posted by: orionexpress | September 1, 2009 11:50 PM | Report abuse


Herbert Hoover Greatest Depression Ever
Richard Nixon Worst Scam and Criminal in the History of Presidents, all thugs.
Ronald -Two Face -Reagan Iran Contra, Recession. three million illegals and amnesty,
Bush One Economic disaster
Bush and (Rasputin) Cheney Bankrupt Country, War for Oil, and unecessary, Torture, Depression, Corruption on a Massive scale, Halliburton stealing 70 Billion, 150,ooo innocents blown to pieces,small children women, and men, 4,500 of our best Killed , 36,000 maimed for LIFE because they lied to get us into this debacle,Increase from billions in surplus to almost two Trillion deficit, increase of six
Trillion debt, Smear Tactics (Max Cleland etc), nine million more illegals , whom the Conservatives hate, and yet people of America the Repig's still think they can govern . JUST TAKE A GOOD HARD LOOK my fellow countrymen, at the Repiglican Party. P.S and don't forget Gonzales, Mier, Brownie, Abramoff, Lay, Enron, Fey,and all of the Draft Deferment Brigade of the American Enterprise Institute.!! The Kennedy's died serving America and also joined the Military---- take a look at the Draft Deferment Brigadiers...... Cheney three deferments, Limbaugh three deferments boil on his big fat A$$, Hannity, Rove, O'Reilly, Krauthammer,Kristol, Frum, Boortz, all the Chicken_Hawks who promoted War of any Kind.!!

Posted by: orionexpress | September 1, 2009 11:51 PM | Report abuse

Kristol, where have you and Gerson been for the last eight years? Did you take some time off or something? And I thought you may have had some power and influence to do something about Afghanistan.

Posted by: repudar711 | September 2, 2009 12:04 AM | Report abuse

The seminal issue is are we supporting a regime that has any credence with the Afghan people. It would appear that the current regime is as corrupt as can be imagined. Until we support a government that the people can believe in there is no way to win.

Posted by: chamberlain_s | September 2, 2009 12:05 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Kristol:

You should reexamine your assertion that we should continue the eight year war in Afghanistan “to prevent re-establishment of al-Qaeda bases”. Please see the recent article in Foreign Policy magazine “The Safe Haven Myth.” The idea that terrorist need “base camps” (like the ones we see video footage of where Muslims dressed in Ninja suites, scurrying across monkey bars with AK-47s slung over there shoulders) in order to attack the United States again is a ridiculous lie.

Terrorists do need gymnastics training and guns to attack us. The most vital assets used by the 9/11 hijackers were visas, drivers licenses, box cutters and flight simulator training; all of which were obtained right here in the United States under the nose of our inept government (my apologies to FBI Agent Anderson; one whose desk did his memo end up on anyway?).

Afghanistan is a rat hole which has now contributed to the bankruptcy of three world empires, including ours, obviously, and chicken-hawks like you, Mr. Kristol, refuse to acknowledge this fact wile you incessantly cheerlead for something that you know nothing about: War.

Posted by: wtpatton | September 2, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Well, Billy, the good news (for us, bad news for you neocons) is that american people are now fully alert to your propaganda, lies, and warmongering to continue to keep us in the quagmire of Afghanistan. It doesn't matter to you neocon/chickenhawks how many thousands of our brave men and women are sacrificed/injured/maimed, as long as you sit in your ivory tower and continue to advocate our involvment in that desolate land as long as you and your ilk doesn't have to volunteer. Qouting your fellow neocon, Fred Kagan, was brilliant or so you thought.

Can't you get it through your head, your Kool-Aid is no longer effective.

George Will's article was a well-reasoned, balanced piece that stood on its own, except that the neocon editorial staff at WAPo had to 'balance' that with a counter-argument from one of their own, and, guess what - every single person saw through this.

Posted by: spidy99 | September 2, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Haven't we exacted enough justice in both lives and monies for the tragedies of 9/11? If not I ask then how much in lives and monies will it take to say justice has been done?

Posted by: rgoldwing | September 3, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

America is winning. Unfit social workers, Mao Tse communist cadres, sunshine patriots, career military phony soldiers, and pentagon cowards are losing.

The next Special Olympics should include uniformed cripples and mental retards.

vive le vendetta

Posted by: therapy | September 3, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

The objective of the war in Afghanistan are clear - a state strong enough to deny terrorists safe haven.

Coupled with the Afghans, we clearly have the capacity to fight and win a cheap, relatively clean war.

(Cost is less than 2% of government spending and much less than 1% of GDP, fewer US deaths than California kills on its highways each year, fewer civilian deaths than the Taliban would inflict if they were unopposed.)

Obama certainly is of like mind.

The question is: will the media sap America's political will to win?

Posted by: Cogit8r | September 4, 2009 4:00 PM | Report abuse

As someone who once read Kristol many years ago with interest if not admiration I have to say that he has little if any credibility on any of these topics. His track record is poor and it is hard to see how he could be viewed as an expert on these topics in any serious way. The approaches he has supported vis a vis foreign policy have now cost the country hundreds of billions if not trillions (yes, trillions) of dollars in their efforts to destroy and then reconstruct the states of Iraq and Afghanistan.

In the case of Afghanistan we have created an unstable, divided country whose major export is heroin (poppies), whose central government does not control major sections of the country, and whose terrorists and rebels have simply moved their operations into northern Pakistan (a theoretical ally of ours). And our own generals are telling us that we're losing the war to boot.

Kristol has the nerve to claim that the problem is that the "necessary resources for victory" have not been provided.

Given a $600-$700 billion military budget this is infuriating. Moreover, for much of the cost they avoided even putting the cost of the wars in the budget (can anyone say "emergency supplement"?).

Why do these newspapers keep drawing dirty water from the same polluted wells on their op-ed pages? Let Bill move into a new career and bring us someone with a fresh take on these issues.

Or maybe you can have him write a piece on what he'd like to do to Iran. With just a few more resources...

Posted by: danielleehansen | September 5, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

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