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Will's Double Surrender Policy

It’s hard to imagine a more disastrous blow to vital American security interests than the double surrender George Will is now proposing. To withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan simultaneously would be to abandon American interests and allies in the Persian Gulf and greater Middle East. The consequences of such a retreat would be to shift the balance of influence in the region decidedly away from pro-U.S. forces in the direction of the most radical forces in Tehran, as well as toward al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Taliban, to name just the most prominent beneficiaries. Long-time allies of the United States would either have to accommodate to these radical forces and fall under their sway, or take matters into their own hands. What Will is proposing would constitute the largest strategic setback in American history.

At a broader level, these withdrawals would signal to the world a new era of American isolationism. If we are willing to hand over Afghanistan and Iraq to radical terrorist forces, where would we not retreat?

Yes, the situations in both Iraq and Afghanistan are difficult. But they are far from unmanageable. Iraq has benefited immensely from the American surge and the political processes it has made possible. Afghanistan is in bad shape, but a concerted effort by our military and civilian forces, as well as by our allies, can produce stability and the possibility of progress with time, as top military leaders, including Gen. Stanley McChrystal, have attested.

Will wants us to commit preemptive suicide for fear of being killed. But we need to show some of the patience and fortitude previous generations of Americans have shown, and in far more dire circumstances. We are not in Iraq and Afghanistan today on a lark. The price of our failure would be enormous, both in the region, and, potentially, at home.

By Robert Kagan  | September 3, 2009; 1:42 PM ET
Categories:  Kagan  | Tags:  Robert Kagan  
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Comments

Neocon talking points, pure and simple, from a neocon superstar.

Posted by: rop2 | September 3, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Why are we in Iraq, Mr. Kagan?

What are we going to win?

Posted by: vigor | September 3, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Kagan raises a very interesting position here. certainly if we did pull out from Afghan, and Taliban again took over, we would be in same position as before Sept 11th, where Al Q and its allies used Kabul as base for planning and developing world wide attacks. the same can be said for an Iraq that falls to pieces and/or becomes one gigantic Gaza strip and thus a haven for terrorism..the downside however is that we will essentially need to "occupy" those places for what could be many many years (decades?) with each week 10 to 20 US soldiers dead, each week every week. and how long will average US voters be willing to take that, and the dollar costs of such an occupation? but a long term occupation of both Iraq and Afghan (and who knows, maybe even Somalia) is in Western security interests, because the consequences of the next major Al Q attack, including possibly nuclear weapons, is too terrible to imagine.

Posted by: RoguesPalace | September 3, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

What did the French lose by withdrawing from Algeria or the Russians from Afghanistan? Are we now fighting the Vietcong in the streets of Burbank because we lost our "resolve" in Vietnam?

Posted by: slim2 | September 3, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Whether Israel/AIPAC approves it or not, US national interest is surely not defined by what finally happens in Hindu Kush.

CIA/Pak/ISI tried it once and established Taliban power in Kabul - replacing Soviet Union and local Communist Party....

Iraq was not a war of necessity and finally Obama has recognized it's not US military business to est. military bases in Iraq - to support Israeli strategic national interest in the region.

However if Nethanhayu finally decides to recognize a sovereign state of Palestine, he may become a peacemaker of the region.

Posted by: hariknaidu | September 3, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

People like Kagan just don't get. Get out of Irak and Afghanistan, maybe you could close all the other bases around the world too, you are not welcome anywhere.

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/KH04Ak01.html

Posted by: woljenwal | September 3, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Same as Vietnam: circular justification for war - 'We must stay and fight because we are already there.'

Posted by: hegel1 | September 3, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Here's Kagan's main point: our friends in the mideast (i.e., the revolutionaries) would be harmed by having US troops leave the area. The weakness of this argument is the assumption that we depend on the revolutionaries for something. Indeed, we don't. Regarding US isolationism, Please. Are our allies just going to forget about the other 800,000 troops deployed around the world? I could explain that pointless wars should be ended, but Will has already done that. And Kagan has yet to explain the goals of these wars.

Posted by: mus81 | September 3, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Kagan: "...withdrawals would signal to the world a new era of isolationism." Not hardly! Much more likely, it will signal a new era of realism -- that is, the US will finally decide not to pursue imperialistic goals via war but will try other methods such as diplomacy, cooperation, financial arm-twisting, working through the U.N., and maybe more humility and less arrogance -- all of which would probably improve the American image somewhat. Miracles are not in the picture, but alternatives may work somewhat better, at least until more Americans study and learn more about other cultures.

Posted by: jeangerard1 | September 3, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

"but a concerted effort by our military and civilian forces, as well as by our allies, can produce stability and the possibility of progress with time..."

This is laughable. If Bush had told the American people in 2003 that we would overthrow Saddam, spend countless billions of dollars,have 4k plus dead solders and have this situation, he would have been laughed out of office. There was already stability under Saddam!

Posted by: seablock | September 3, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Robert Kagan shakes his elegantly-graying head sadly at George Will's inability to be tough enough to stay the course militarily in Afghanistan and Iraq. How could he make this terrible error in judgment wonders this armchair-general about one of his manly brethren? Let's see, if we got Robert Kagan, his brother Frederick, George Will, Dick Cheney, Bill Kristol, Paul Wolfowitz and a few more of the neo-conservative "Other Priorities Than Military Service" crowd together, they could form their own Dirty Dozen who could parachute into Kabul and really take care of the business they see as so vital to America's interests that other people's children should go off to fight.

Posted by: ozma1 | September 3, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

I guess as soon as both wars are not Bush's but Obama's then it's alright to throw in the towel. Has Will always been against the Wars; or only when they're Democrat wars. He has no credibility.

Posted by: ilion23 | September 3, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse

As one who has opposed both these wars from the beginning, I could not be happier to see George Will joining the fold. Disasters may well follow from a withdrawal, but even worse disasters will happen if we stay the course as Kagan recommends. In fact, our intervention has been nothing but a disaster all along, contrary to Kagan's claims. Furthermore, it will be a positive good to allow these sovereign countries and people to settle their own bloody disputes for a change.

Posted by: handle | September 3, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

actually, bob, the REAL disaster was/is your continuing presence as a spokesmodel for the neocon thievery and criminality you've imposed thru deceit and manipulation of u.s. foreign policy.

how many of the kagan spawn have been sacrificed in your efforts? i'm guessing none.

Posted by: mycomment | September 3, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Mr Kagan wants our boys to keep dying for Israeli settlements and bankrupting our economy too. BTW has Kagan ever served in the active military or did he get deferments?

Posted by: qualquan | September 3, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

I concur with George Will about Iraq, but leaving that nation won't be a problem in the long run anyway; as Will points out, the Iraqis will demand that we leave before the end of Obama's (first) term anyway. Afghanistan is the problem, because we could continue to pour men and resources into that country indefinitely without ever achieving "victory". The Vietnam comparison is apt, and I hope President Obama won't go the way of LBJ.

One point from a previous post: "ozma1" was way off-base by lumping George Will in with the neocons. As a conservative, George Will is a member of the old school. I can recall a column back in '05 or '06 where Will excoriated Bill Kristol for arguing in favor of a preemptive airstrike against Iran. Moderate Democrat that I am, I may disagree often with Will, but he's no neocon and never has been. At worst, I have real respect for the intellectual conservatives like Will and David Brooks, as they always apply logic and reason to their arguments; delusional neocons like Kristol, Wolfowitz, the Cheneys, and the Kagans would be laughing-stocks if they weren't so dangerous.

Posted by: cclark17 | September 3, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

It will all end when the fat lady -- woops excuse me --fat man Kagan sings!

Posted by: KrautKiller | September 3, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

I won't be holding my breath until this fat b@.....d finally picks up a rifle and volunteers for either one of the war he supports so much. Maybe we should take away his health care coverage.

Posted by: August30 | September 3, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

If this Kagan guy was worried about the war, why did he get so fat?

Posted by: August30 | September 3, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Kagan writes that if we follow George Will's "Double Surrender Policy, our long-time allies "would either have to accommodate to these radical forces and fall under their sway, or take matters into their own hands."

Take matters into their OWN hands? The Horror!!

"Will wants us to commit preemptive suicide for fear of being killed" Kagan warns us. "But we need to show some of the patience and fortitude previous generations of Americans have shown, and in far more dire circumstances."

Kagan talks a hard game from the swivel chair at his desk, but what military uniform of this country did he wear? And what real war did he go to?

Those are rhetorical questions.

Posted by: mikehike | September 3, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Can't WaPo see how the vast majority of its readership absolutely gags at this guy Kagan's dishonest warmongering? Why is he allowed a forum?

Posted by: qualquan | September 3, 2009 3:44 PM | Report abuse

We are most certainly in Iraq "on a lark." Heckuva job, Bushie! That "lark" has made success in Afghanistan all but impossible.

Posted by: Rocket88 | September 3, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Except for bragging rights and some chest thumping, what does anybody really lose when they do something that stops the bleeding?

What did we lose by leaving Vietnam?

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

Mr. Kagain needs to double surrender his illogical views.

All we have left to do is locate Osama Bin Laden.

Somebody get down to Crawford and ask George Bush where he hid Osama Bin Laden.

Posted by: lindalovejones | September 3, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

In Iraq, we've defeated al Qaeda and owe the Iraqis an orderly withdrawal that gives them a fair chance of avoiding sectarian war or Iranian domination.

In Afghanistan, which has never been a unified nation due to ethnic, regional and tribal divisions, our goal should be modest: prevent the Taliban from regaining power. Fortunately, they have a 6% approval rating compared to our our 60% in the most recent poll. I trust Petraeus and McChrystal to come up with a plan that defeats our enemies, but nation-building is unrealistic.

Our strategic enemy in the Middle East is Iran. Our precipitous withdrawal from the area would greatly strengthen the mullahs. If they also acquire nukes, they will dominate this vital region and become a world power. Any president who allows Iranian hegemony be remembered as the American Neville Chamberlain.

Posted by: emmet1 | September 3, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Time to focus on our true allies and abandon the Arabs to their own primitive vices: let them kill each other, who cares?

Kagan is a major architect of the failures in Iraq and Afghanistan. No wonder he wants the fiasco to continue no matter what.

Iraq is a dangerous delusion; only Iran has won from Kagan's insane scheme. Afghanistan is not worth one drop of American blood.

Posted by: cambridge-persisitence | September 3, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Like all true cowards Kagan fixates on shows of strength and strutting about acting brave. Nations are not small men with envy issues regardless of how he and his paint the world. Kagan and the NeoCons are all mouth but none have served or ever even paid the cost of their bragging but have always hidden behind law or religion or someone else to protect their rights while bad mouthing all who question their logic. Kagan, Kristol,Krautie, Gerson and the boys of the frat should be treated as they are shameless cowards who seek to profit from tragic policies they support, as all have connection to war profits.

Posted by: jpenergy | September 3, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Kagan, don't you have something better to do? Can't you come up with a defense better than calling George Will a coward?

Come on, you can do better than that. Signaling Isolation? Admitting disaster is more like it. When you and your friends were cheerleading us into this war, you were telling us dire prophesies of WMD and the end of civilization if we didn't invade Iraq. And that before we'd cleaned up the disaster that is Afghanistan. If Afghanistan was the "good war" we FUBARRED it when we took the troops for cleaning up the mess and sent them to Iraq.

On the contrary, this might signal that the USA has come to its senses. It might even be good for Israel's long term survival, as the rage that is building up among paleo-conservatives threatens and outbreak of anti-semitism based on the Jewish heritage of so many neo-cons (never mind that almost half of them are Catholics or Born agains). Not to mention the rage that non-Jihadi Moslems have been building up over the "collateral damages" and "unintended side-effects" of these botched efforts.

Of course Will is wrong to think we can just pull up and get out. Not that anyone is going to listen to him anyway. I'm looking at a scenario similar to Johnson's with Vietnam, followed by a Nixonian revival. I'm thoroughly depressed. Anyone wanna buy a used Jihad? It's amazing how a few ignorant and fanatic people can cause so much trouble. am i talking of bin laden or you?

Posted by: chris_holte | September 3, 2009 4:44 PM | Report abuse

emmet1, a United States withdrawal would make it easier for people in Iran to deal with the mullahs however they choose. The threat of an intervention by the nuclear-armed United States politically fortifies the regime against the people. We have already expanded this war to Pakistan and Somalia, should we now expand it to Iran as well? Right now our presence is propping up every corrupt government over there.

Posted by: handle | September 3, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Will should be congratulated on his courage in speaking out against our continued presence in Afghanistan and Iraq. Chuck Hegel says the same thing in today's print section of WaPo. Jim Webb and Russ Feingold appear to be with him.

Although I shudder to think of the Taliban grabbing control of Pakistan's nuclear facilities, let the U.N. deal with the problem. My country (the U.S.) must take care of its own problems, and we have plenty. Let's increase our security against those who wish to destroy us with our CIA plus state and local law enforcement agencies. We are NOT the big policeman for the world.

Posted by: dangerosa | September 3, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

The partisan polarization of American politics is so severe that one can only see Will's recommendations for withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan as attempts to convince the (Democratic)President to do something that Republicans could use against him, and by extension, against other Democrats in the upcoming midterm election, regardless of any degree of merit that may be found in his views. Will should reflect on his own contribution to this dismal state of affairs.

Posted by: getsmart4 | September 3, 2009 5:06 PM | Report abuse

"We are not in Iraq and Afghanistan today on a lark." No, our forces are there because of the Bush Administration's fatally flawed decisions. "The consequences of such a retreat would be to shift the balance of influence in the region decidedly away from pro-U.S. forces in the direction of the most radical forces in Tehran..." What pro-US forces is Kagan talking about? Shiite dominated Iraq?
This is the same tired, false logic that was used to prolong the Vietnam War. And that adventure turned out well, didn't it?
Let's ask the 58,000 Americans who died in Vietnam whether the US should spend more blood and treasure fighting in Irag and Afghanistan.

Posted by: posterchild90 | September 3, 2009 5:11 PM | Report abuse

Pretty funny, as Kagan is as interested in money as anyone, yet he apparently thinks he can overlook the savings of pulling out of both conflicts.

I'd say our enemies are happy to see us spend ourselves to death continuing what we are doing now.

Posted by: AIPACiswar | September 3, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse

tell u what, mr kagan -- YOU send YOUR children over there, and pay for their keep while you're at it, if you feel so strongly.

for my part, the sooner we get out, and learn to live without middle-east oil, the better we'll all be.

Posted by: summicron1 | September 3, 2009 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Kagan.. feel free to take you fellow Neocons to Iran and Afghanistan yourselves and fix what you broke.

If you die in the process we will celebrate you..Call you Patriots and raise your name in vain..


Fei Hu

Posted by: Fei_Hu | September 3, 2009 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Fight it your self typical neocon chicken hawk

Posted by: decker_joseph | September 3, 2009 5:36 PM | Report abuse

handle said:
emmet1, a United States withdrawal would make it easier for people in Iran to deal with the mullahs however they choose. The threat of an intervention by the nuclear-armed United States politically fortifies the regime against the people. We have already expanded this war to Pakistan and Somalia, should we now expand it to Iran as well? Right now our presence is propping up every corrupt government over there.
----------------------
How would a U.S. withdrawal from Iran's neighbors "make it easier for the people in Iran to deal with" the despised mullahs? The mullahs have been supplying EFPs and other deadly munitions that have killed Americans in Iraq and probably in Afghanistan, as well. So apparently the mullahs share your and George Will's desire that we leave both places.

Obama's toughness and resolve is being tested by Iran and the rest of our enemies. If he is weak, there will be Hell to pay. Our enemies' goals are not limited -- if you belive their own words.

The left is abandoning the president on both wars, along with a few isolationists on the right, such as Will and Buchanan. Most Republicans will stand behind Obama if he will show leadership and make plain that he will not later cut and run.

We will not support Obama at the outset and then stab him in the back, as Kerry and Hillary Clinton did to President Bush.

Posted by: emmet1 | September 3, 2009 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of religious fundamentalist he11 holes, look what Israel is turning into. Right wing Zionist zealots are fighting with police over secular people living normal lives on their ridiculous Sabbath, while they have an average of ten children per family. It's easy to see where this nuclear armed tribal temple of a state is headed.

We need to tell all religion-infused he11s on Earth, be they Christian, Islamic or Jewish to go to he11 instead of creating them here for us to deal with. Then we need to turn our attention to enforcing a secular, private, NON-RELIGIOUS nation HERE at home. The religious are the root cause of 90% of the world's violence and problems.

Posted by: AIPACiswar | September 3, 2009 5:44 PM | Report abuse

The Kagans and Kristols and their ilk have well established goals in the Middle East and that is to keep Americans fighting Muslims and keeping the area in turmoil. Under those conditions Israel can have its way against its neighbors, defacto ethnically cleanse the Palestinians, and AIPAC, WJC, ADL, etc., can continue to strong arm Congress for more money, weapons, and UN diplomatic cover for Israel's war crimes.

Should Obama side with George Will and a large majority of Americans, expedite a plan to get out of the Iraq and Afghanistan and leave those tribal people alone, or order Israel not to attack Iran, he will find himself in an AIPAC ordered Congressional choke hold like no one has seen before. Impeachment would be on the table.

But Obama was reeducated about who has the power in Washington even before he took office and he will meekly follow the script written by Kagan's friends. He will then go to the annual AIPAC convention and publicly pledge his loyalty to those who co-opted his presidency, be declared a true friend of Israel, all the while as American soldiers continue to die.

Mr. George Will, if Obama can't beat the insurance companies and the thieves of Wall Street, he has no change against the Israeli lobby so your sensible conclusions are therefore, ephemeral.

Posted by: Lazarus40 | September 3, 2009 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Make no mistake, when we pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan, a lot of bad stuff is going to happen. The Taliban will probably take over Afghanistan, which will be awful for the Afghans, and civil war will light off in Iraq, which will be awful for Iraqis. The price of oil will go up for a while.

However, saying that getting out would flub some vital long-term strategic opposition to Iran is ridiculous. Opposing Iran is not something we have to do, anymore than we have to oppose Egypt. Of course the mullahs' current policies are anti-American - considering the history, it would be amazing if it weren't the case. But our getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan would likely see them mellowing quite a bit. The thing to do is give them the same treatment Nixon gave China.

Our days of American military interference and Israeli domination in the region are over. The idea that we can stretch things out by making sure Iran doesn't go nuclear is wishful thinking.

Posted by: fzdybel | September 3, 2009 5:53 PM | Report abuse

"Should Obama side with George Will ... Impeachment would be on the table."

Oh right. And just who's going to put it there? Nancy Pelosi?

Posted by: fzdybel | September 3, 2009 6:01 PM | Report abuse

fzdybel, Israel has no desire or capacity to "dominate the region". Their goal is the more modest one of survival. Iran has threatened to "wipe them off the map", and no Israeli prime minister, least of all Bibi Netanyahu, will ever allow that to happen. The Arabs are more afraid of Iran than Israel, and they will silently rejoice when Israel takes out Iran's nuclear infrastructure.

Posted by: emmet1 | September 3, 2009 6:07 PM | Report abuse

Man, you look at this SOB Kagan's smiling face and just want to get him alone outside a bar one night and make a little war, on him.

Posted by: AIPACiswar | September 3, 2009 6:08 PM | Report abuse

emmet1 You are deluded. Iran's threats are just that, threats. Just how would you suppose Iran might wipe an Israel with over 200 nukes off the map? Throw pistachios?

Israel with it's Mossad certainly mirror's Iran's various dirty deed world wide. They are birds of a feather - religious zealot filled kook states.

Posted by: AIPACiswar | September 3, 2009 6:12 PM | Report abuse

as kagan knows better than most, we surely are not in iraq or afghanistan on a lark -- we are there on a lie. a lark would have given us better footing.

Posted by: ithejury | September 3, 2009 6:18 PM | Report abuse

Actually, we ARE in Iraq and Afghanistan on a lark.

Posted by: localocean | September 3, 2009 6:35 PM | Report abuse

AIPACis war, Iran's new defense minister Ahmad Vahidi is a terrorist mastermind wanted by Argentina for a 1994 bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 innocent people, the largest single incident of anti-Semitic murder since WWII.

President Ahmadinejad, who appointed Vahidi, is a believer in the Twelfth Iman, who the devout expect will return to lead the Shia to victory in an "end-of-days" cataclism. This millennial event can be accelerated, he and they believe, by starting a nuclear war. If you don't believe me, Google it.

There's no way Israel can depend on the mullahs not actually carrying out their threats once they have the capacity. At the very least, the mullahs would encourage Hezbollah and Hamas to step up their attacks under Iran's nuclear umbrella. At worst, Iran might even turn to nuclear terrorism against us.

I've always thought that when Iran gets nuclear weapons, Hezbollah gets nuclear weapons.

Posted by: emmet1 | September 3, 2009 6:43 PM | Report abuse

Am I the only one that noticed that Will said absolutely nothing about immediate withdrawl from Afganistan? So Kagan is full of it right out of the gate with his title. He loses all credibility at that point. No further reading required.

Posted by: rsmc1 | September 3, 2009 6:56 PM | Report abuse

I am not a hawk or neocon. Not by any measure. So I hate to agree with Mr. Kagan, but this time I must.

Before we went into Iraq, Colin Powell offered the "Pottery Barn" warning: "You break it; you own it." We broke it. We must help glue it back together to something better than Saddam and better than his decaying infrastructure. We owe that for the many dead Iraqis and the American and other troops who were sent into harms way there.

Before we went into Afghanistan, thugs from the Al Qaeda network rammed planes into the twin towers and Pentagon. Sadly, we didn't take that situation seriously enough under former President Bush. Now, with Pakistani help, we are making a concerted effort to get after those who harbor bin Laden and his network in Afghanistan.

I would not like to see an endless presence in either of these nations. I hope the Iraq withdrawal continues apace and I hope more we can deal with the Qaeda forces who brought death to American soil. They don't deserve a free pass.

Posted by: kcbob | September 3, 2009 7:09 PM | Report abuse

rsmc1, you claim "Kagan is full of it" because "Will said absolutely nothing about immediate withdrawal from Iraq".

You must not have made it through Will's last paragraph:

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 valor, such as Allen's, is squandered.

Granted that George Will in his dotage is not the incisive thinker and writer that he used to be. Even David Broder wrote a smarter column today than Will's. But what is it about "when means now" that you can't understand?

Posted by: emmet1 | September 3, 2009 7:13 PM | Report abuse

.
ah, Dr. Kagan, but we are in Iraq on a lark. Your lark, truth be told. A lark that produced the largest strategic setback in American history.

I understand the need to repeat the canard the the "Surge" worked; without that, you have nothing; you are nothing.
Alas, the "Surge" did not stabilize Iraq. It did not produce a good government or factional reconciliation or prosperity. It simply ratified ethnic cleansing. As its author, I think that earns you the right to boast of supporting war crimes.

I used to think that you were willing to weaken and harm the US, if it somehow benefited Israel. Well, here you are advocating the further weakening of our military, for no good purpose, for no improvement in US national security, and for no benefit to Israel, either. A weak USA cannot defend Israel from her enemies.
.

Posted by: BrianX9 | September 3, 2009 7:13 PM | Report abuse

Part one.

To put it as simply as possible, the U.S. does not even know the history of its own Western civilization let alone realize that concerning some places in the world it must replicate its own history, bring nations up to democracy by the unfortunate but necessary paths of aristocracy and even monarchy.

What makes the problem even more disturbing is that the U.S. wants democracy worldwide, but seems utterly blind to the fact that the world so far seems, and quite predictably, to be demonstrating the negative of democracy, anarchy--for after all if no one expects the world as a whole to pass by the paths of the more "primitive" governments to democracy the only result can be anarchy, because no nation has ever arrived at democracy by just leaping over such paths.

Prediction: the U.S. will be forced into isolationism--yes, forced, not choose such--because its values prevent it from approaching the world as it must be approached, which of course means by multiple paths depending on the part of the world. Some places can be approached by the typical left wing method, places such as China for example.

Other places quite frankly probably need to be even colonized, a ruthless authority set up to establish order. We know what some of those places are. But of course those good old U.S. values will prevent such from being applied. Therefore retreat from many parts of the world--isolationism.

Unless, unless...the U.S. can link up with places such as China (again), India, Brazil, Russia--and collectively these nations solve the problem. If all are involved less force in particular places will be necessary.

But if this link up cannot be made, we will have the problem the U.S. is having now, one nation trying to bring order to another but unable to deviate from its values to apply the force necessary. Force from the problem nations increases on particular advanced nations the less the advanced nations work together.

The advanced nations must work together.
9/3/2009 7:09:14 PM

Posted by: daniel12 | September 3, 2009 7:14 PM | Report abuse

rsmc1, I meant "Afghanistan" rather than "Iraq" in my first sentence quoting your post.

Posted by: emmet1 | September 3, 2009 7:15 PM | Report abuse

Part half.

Hobbes's Leviathan tells us the most difficult type of government to form is democracy and that it is all too likely to lead to its negative, anarchy.

Hobbes says not only aristocracy but monarchy is preferable to democracy because the two are not only easier to establish, their negatives--oligarchy and tyranny--are not as bad as anarchy.

The modern world--especially the Western world--has demonstrated that democracy can be kept from its negative, anarchy, and therefore aristocracy not to mention monarchy can be set aside.

The problem though is that this pertains to only certain parts of the world. Many parts of the world--certainly Iraq and Afghanistan--are not only not capable of democracy without it turning to anarchy, they need the more "primitive" forms of government such as the more advanced places have set aside: aristocracy, monarchy.

But the U.S. is unwilling to see this. Its hostility to any sign within itself of aristocracy let alone monarchy has prevented it from seeing that some places must be approached in aristocratic or even monarchic fashion. Furthermore the above problem of the U.S. has crystallized into a statement of values that must never be deviated from.

The predictable result is that the U.S. cannot fight at all let alone establish order in such places as Afghanistan and Iraq. Those places need to be approached in aristocratic or even monarchic fashion--certainly more ruthlessly--if we expect success.

But of course the U.S. finds itself incapable of doing that. The U.S. is caught in a sad bind: It is democratic, wants the world to be democratic, but it is unwilling to sacrifice the values that have arisen over time within itself to bring the world to democracy via the only paths toward such, which of course, again, are the paths of aristocracy and probably even monarchy.

Posted by: daniel12 | September 3, 2009 7:16 PM | Report abuse

Part one.

Hobbes's Leviathan tells us the most difficult type of government to form is democracy and that it is all too likely to lead to its negative, anarchy.

Hobbes says not only aristocracy but monarchy is preferable to democracy because the two are not only easier to establish, their negatives--oligarchy and tyranny--are not as bad as anarchy.

The modern world--especially the Western world--has demonstrated that democracy can be kept from its negative, anarchy, and therefore aristocracy not to mention monarchy can be set aside.

The problem though is that this pertains to only certain parts of the world. Many parts of the world--certainly Iraq and Afghanistan--are not only not capable of democracy without it turning to anarchy, they need the more "primitive" forms of government such as the more advanced places have set aside: aristocracy, monarchy.

But the U.S. is unwilling to see this. Its hostility to any sign within itself of aristocracy let alone monarchy has prevented it from seeing that some places must be approached in aristocratic or even monarchic fashion. Furthermore the above problem of the U.S. has crystallized into a statement of values that must never be deviated from.

The predictable result is that the U.S. cannot fight at all let alone establish order in such places as Afghanistan and Iraq. Those places need to be approached in aristocratic or even monarchic fashion--certainly more ruthlessly--if we expect success.

But of course the U.S. finds itself incapable of doing that. The U.S. is caught in a sad bind: It is democratic, wants the world to be democratic, but it is unwilling to sacrifice the values that have arisen over time within itself to bring the world to democracy via the only paths toward such, which of course, again, are the paths of aristocracy and probably even monarchy.

Posted by: daniel12 | September 3, 2009 7:16 PM | Report abuse

Part two.

To put it as simply as possible, the U.S. does not even know the history of its own Western civilization let alone realize that concerning some places in the world it must replicate its own history, bring nations up to democracy by the unfortunate but necessary paths of aristocracy and even monarchy.

What makes the problem even more disturbing is that the U.S. wants democracy worldwide, but seems utterly blind to the fact that the world so far seems, and quite predictably, to be demonstrating the negative of democracy, anarchy--for after all if no one expects the world as a whole to pass by the paths of the more "primitive" governments to democracy the only result can be anarchy, because no nation has ever arrived at democracy by just leaping over such paths.

Prediction: the U.S. will be forced into isolationism--yes, forced, not choose such--because its values prevent it from approaching the world as it must be approached, which of course means by multiple paths depending on the part of the world. Some places can be approached by the typical left wing method, places such as China for example.

Other places quite frankly probably need to be even colonized, a ruthless authority set up to establish order. We know what some of those places are. But of course those good old U.S. values will prevent such from being applied. Therefore retreat from many parts of the world--isolationism.

Unless, unless...the U.S. can link up with places such as China (again), India, Brazil, Russia--and collectively these nations solve the problem. If all are involved less force in particular places will be necessary.

But if this link up cannot be made, we will have the problem the U.S. is having now, one nation trying to bring order to another but unable to deviate from its values to apply the force necessary. Force from the problem nations increases on particular advanced nations the less the advanced nations work together.

The advanced nations must work together.

Posted by: daniel12 | September 3, 2009 7:17 PM | Report abuse

emmet1, I didn't say Iraq. I said Afganistan. Read before you comment. You intellectual poser.

Posted by: rsmc1 | September 3, 2009 7:21 PM | Report abuse

rsmc1 wrote: emmet1, I didn't say Iraq. I said Afganistan. Read before you comment. You intellectual poser.
--------
I accidentally typed "Iraq" instead of "Afghanistan" in quoting your post. I corrected it above after I noticed my mistake. That makes me a bad proofreader, but indicates nothing about whether I'm a poser.

Posted by: emmet1 | September 3, 2009 7:27 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Kagan - you have to leave, because you're losing. Can't you get that through your fat head? The U.S. military cannot, by definition, continue "surging" every time things start to slide the wrong way in Iraq. Face up to the consequences of your stupid cheerleading for a war to remove the dictator who did a much better job of running Iraq than your self-interested pro-Iranian puppet is doing now.

In the years to come, America will pay dearly for your greedy foolishness. It's just a pity you won't pay personally.

Posted by: marknesop | September 3, 2009 7:36 PM | Report abuse

Changes in mind cast of the type the West envisages for Islam typically take 200 years. But there is only 2 years availble unless full throated colonialism is imposed and then it will still take 200 years. When Islam invaded Christain areas substantial conversion to Islam took 200 years. So did the conversion of parts of Europe from Catholicism to Protestantism give or take a few decades. On the other hand Communism imploded after 70 when isolated.

Posted by: davidnelsonau | September 3, 2009 7:39 PM | Report abuse

Please Mr. Kagan, "allies;" to whom to you refer? Mr. Maliki of the Dawa party (funded by Iran), not to mention that he travels with Iranian security. Or perhaps you are referring to Mr. Karzai, the man who berates American troops at every turn while on the campaign trail. Or perhaps you are referring to our allies in Pakistan; home of bin Laden these past 8 years. Or how about one of your old pals, Chalabi; also now working with Iranian support.

And how exactly has Iraq benefited from the surge? Yes violence fell for a short time, but now that the Iraqis are in control there is every indication that the surge only bought a respite and not a lasting peace.

The failure isn't in the departing, the failure was in the entering.

Posted by: MarkD4 | September 3, 2009 7:40 PM | Report abuse

Uh-oh, a neo-con bun fight.

Rabid Israel-worshiping Zionists on one side, brain-dead, Reagan-worshiping cut-and-run specialists on the other.

The only thing they have in common?

Endless chickenhawk clucking.

Cluck, cluck, cluck, squawk!

Cluck, cluck, cluck, squawk!

Posted by: WhatHeSaid | September 3, 2009 7:48 PM | Report abuse

emmet1. Well, then you must admit my original point stands. Kagan's entire post is irrelavent because he lied up front about the content of Will's article. Sorry about the poser comment. You're right. I don't know you. So I shouldn't make that assumption.

Posted by: rsmc1 | September 3, 2009 7:49 PM | Report abuse

Most of what I was going to type has been typed. Some people won't feel comfortable in this world unless they think every inch of the globe is dominated by the American military-industrial complex. Or, so they say. Actually, most of what they articulate is a form of false hysteria that they manufacture for money and prestige.

Posted by: rusty3 | September 3, 2009 7:56 PM | Report abuse

rsmc1, Will's point was that we should get out of Afghanistan now before we lose any more brave soldiers in what he believes is a lost cause. I have to agree that we should leave now if we're bound to abandon the godforsaken place in a year or two anyway.

But I believe that denying AQ and the Taliban a sanctuary is worth the cost. I'm worried about the impact of an American defeat on nuclear-armed Pakistan, a far more important country than Afghanistan.

In Iraq, we're leaving already. We're no longer patrolling cities and we suffered only four combat deaths in August. That's four too many. But we would disgrace our brave men and women who have sacrificed and accomplished so much if we didn't keep our commitment to the agreed upon timetable.

I have no illusions about Iraq or Afghanistan becoming anything more than dysfunctional third world nations, and that's the upside. The downside is becoming failed states like Somalia hat are ruled by terrorists or their allies. There is a world of difference between the two.

Posted by: emmet1 | September 3, 2009 8:20 PM | Report abuse

emmet1. Holy Crap! You are missing my point. Go back and read Will's article. This is the only mention of Afganistan. "After almost 6 1/2 years, and 4,327 American dead and 31,483 wounded, with a war spiraling downward in Afghanistan, it would be indefensible for the U.S. military -- overextended and in need of materiel repair and mental recuperation -- to loiter in Iraq to improve the instincts of corrupt elites." He is talking about leaving Iraq. Not Afganistan. Which negates the validity of Kagan's Double Surrender thesis. In my opinion Kagan's goal, a typical PNAC/AEI tactic, of muddying the water by lying about Will's perfectly valid opinion has succeded. Make no mistake he is not taking Will's arguement out of context. It is an outright lie. If you can't understand this, then please do not respond. Because there is nothing else I could say to convince you.

Posted by: rsmc1 | September 3, 2009 8:38 PM | Report abuse

emmet1 - You are still deluded on Iran and Israel, blather on all you want about the personalities in Iran, wanted for whatever. The government of Israel is rife with ex-terrorists as we know very well. From Ben Gurion to Sharon to Olmert these guys are despicable as any Iranian. Now, I believe Israel is a done deal, it is what it is. But to suggest the baloney you do about Iran attacking them is pure koolaid.

Iran for one is a survivor, always has been, and it is not going to do something to get itself nuked.

The status quo, if you read the papers, is Israel poised on tiptoe to attack Iran TODAY, TOMORROW, or whenever suits it. How'd you like to live under that threat?

So you are deluded. The right wing Israelis are every bit as fanatical as Mullahs. They are birds of a feather.

Posted by: AIPACiswar | September 3, 2009 8:41 PM | Report abuse

These koolaid and baloney wars are why we need a draft. Get a draft, and let's see how America feels about any war.

In a righteous war, Americas will serve as draftees and defend the country, and kick butt all over the place too. And they won't be embraced as patriotic tool by alternating sides just to get politicians reelected.

These "I only see it on tv" wars are phony wars, run by technocrats and the military industrial complex, they are undemocratic and weaken the nation. Wake up!

Posted by: AIPACiswar | September 3, 2009 8:46 PM | Report abuse

rsmc1, now I see the cause of the misunderstanding. Will's column today is about Iraq. Earlier this week he published a column calling for the immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan. Kagan was referring to both columns, but you hadn't seen the first one and thought he was referring to Will's column today. That's why you thought Kagan was lying about Will's position. You had no way of knowing about the earlier column.

The paragraph I quoted above that mentioned DeGaulle and Bismark was from Will's earlier Afghanistan column. I attributed it to Will but forgot to enclose it in quotes, and you probably thought it was my pretentious writing, not Will's, which is probably why you called me "a poser". Not that I'm not. :)

Anyway, I'm sorry I falsely questioned your reading comprehension.

Posted by: emmet1 | September 3, 2009 8:58 PM | Report abuse

AIPACiswar. I agree that as long as citizens are insulated from the true effects of war, they are more willing to just accept the spoon-fed crap from MSM. However, the idea of a draft is unconstitutional. Always has been. It's just been used so many times that no one will challenge the constitutionality of it.

13th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.

Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2. Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Make no mistake, a draft is involuntary servitude.
So what to do? We need to stop our leaders from continuing to build this empire.

Posted by: rsmc1 | September 3, 2009 9:02 PM | Report abuse

emmet1. So you're pretentious, and a plagiariser:) Thanks for the heads up on the previous article. From now on I'll leave the pretentions for Will. I mean DeGaulle and Bismark, come on. Dennis Miller is probably taking notes. While I still disagree with your points regarding our wars, I no longer feel like I am screaming at a wall. Good luck, and God bless.

Posted by: rsmc1 | September 3, 2009 9:12 PM | Report abuse

AIPACiswar, I'm not just speculating that Iran might attack Israel. Ahmadinejad has threatened to "wipe them off the map". He's also helpfully explained that Israel could be destroyed by a few nuclear bombs, whereas Iran is much larger and could survive any Israeli attack.

Hitler said he planned to exterminate the Jews, but few believed him. We shouldn't make the same mistake twice.

You seem to think most Israelis are religious fanatics similar to the mullahs. Actually most are secular or mildly observant Jews who just want to live in peace. That's why they (stupidly) allowed Arafat and the PLO to bring their terrorism back to Judea and Samaria (the West Bank). It's also why just last fall Olmert made a very generous offer to the Palestinian leadership that was summarily rejected.

The Palestinians are still unwilling to accept Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state, which Obama during the campaign told AIPAC (your favorite group) they would have to do as part of any peace agreement.

Posted by: emmet1 | September 3, 2009 9:15 PM | Report abuse

rsmc1 Ha ha how old are you? A draft is unconstitutional? Right. Tell that to 50K+ dead soldiers from the "Vietnam War." You do know that only Congress can declare war, right? Well they didn't then or in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Congress in fact has the right to do whatever it takes to "raise and maintain armies," even to draft minors. Do a little reading before you make childish statements and cut'n paste tidbits of great documents.

Posted by: AIPACiswar | September 3, 2009 9:16 PM | Report abuse

emmet1 - Do you read? You repeat yourself, and you are still muttering the same deluded GOP Zionist koolaid. YOU ARE DELUDED! Your claims are baloney, your categorizations are completely biased in favor of Jews/Israelis. I did not say most Israelis are fringe right wing religious zealots acting out Biblical lies. Just a lot of them. Read the damned NYT you fool.

The Israelis are the war criminals these days. Funny how you Zionist apologists don't want to recognize that fact. FACT.

Posted by: AIPACiswar | September 3, 2009 9:24 PM | Report abuse

For a real interpretation of the reality of Orthodoxy in Judaism and Islam for that matter, read "God is Not Great" by Hitchens. The Jews are out of their minds, just like the fanatical Muslims.

Only bigots think the Jews are without blame or even making any sense with their Biblical baloney. The Bible is a lie, the Jewish claims based on it are bull. They own the place by force alone. Good for them, so be it. Now let's them have their fanaticism without our help.

Posted by: AIPACiswar | September 3, 2009 9:29 PM | Report abuse

AIPACiswar, why should I argue with you that Iran's leaders are by their own rhetoric and apocalyptic faith committed to attacking Israel with nuclear weapons, when it's perfectly clear from your anti-Semitic spewings that you would welcome such an event?

Posted by: emmet1 | September 3, 2009 9:37 PM | Report abuse

Dear Robert,

Please complete the following quiz:

1) What is the expected outcome of our involvement in Afghanistan, i.e. when do we know that we are done, that we have achieved success? Please provide explicit, measurable metrics, not platitudes or patriotic slogans.

Note: Please do not reply that "We'll know it when we see it."

2) What level of financial and human resources will be required to complete this task?

Note: Please do not reply "Enough to get the job done."

3) How long will this job take?

Note: Please do not reply "As long as it takes."

4) Are there other, more important demands on our finite resources?

Note: If "yes," you are done with the quiz.

5) Do we have the resources to complete the project as you have defined it?

Note: If "no," you are done with the quiz.

I hope that you have managed a satisfactory response to each of the items above. In the business world, someone who could not answer such questions about a proposed project would quickly be seeking new employment.

Assuming that you have answered the first 5 questions adequately, you are ready to move to the next level.

Summarize your total resource requirement to the government and the American public and request reinstatement of the draft. After all, we still maintain some trappings of a democracy, and you surely wish to probe public support for your plans. What better way to test the depth of the public's commitment than a reinstatement of the draft?

Once your plan is in motion, you will find ample fodder for future op-ed pieces in the rioting which spreads across college and university campuses and in the crushing defeat suffered by the current administration in the next election.

Posted by: PrisonerofPlanetMoron | September 3, 2009 9:49 PM | Report abuse

AIPACiswar. Do you not agree that conscription is indeed involuntary servitude? My age should be of no concern to you. I am of draft age, though unlikely to be called if instituted. I'm at the upper age bracket. However, if drafted into a war in which I do not want to go, would this not be servitude? As far as cut and paste tidbits, that's all you did with "raise and maintain armies". You left out the second part of that about appropriation of money for such an effort. My interpretation is that the money be used to hire personnel and purchase equipment. It says nothing about a draft. Thus a draft is in violation of the 13th and unconstitutional. So childish comments do not depend on your age. You truly are missing my point. I don't believe we should be in either of these "wars". The people supposedly responsible for attacking us could have been dealt with by using a different power enumerated to congress. Letters of Marque and Reprisal. I believe in these great documents and would defend them against any and all enemies. So please don't trivialize my comments by reducing this to name calling.

Posted by: rsmc1 | September 3, 2009 9:49 PM | Report abuse

rsmc1, as a libertarian I agree with you about the draft on policy grounds. However, I don't think the constitutional argument works despite the fact that conscription is indeed "involuntary servitude". The draft was used in the Civil War and if the drafters of the Thirteenth Amendment had intended to outlaw it, they would have mentioned it specifically.

It's an interesting argument though, and a "strict constructionist" judge might agree with you. I'm more in the "original intent" camp, myself. I don't know what the "living Constitution" crowd would say. It would probably depend on whether they supported the particular war.

Posted by: emmet1 | September 3, 2009 10:06 PM | Report abuse

We need to pull out, lick our wounds, and get ready for a major war in the Middle East. and this time, we need to make darn sure the Europeans are involved up to their necks. Ever since WWII, the US has shouldered the burden of protecting the west and all it has earned us is enmity. We spend billions fighting these small wars so we don't have to fight the big ones (72 million dead in WWII. Anyone remember that?). Well, maybe it's time to let some of these crazies run wild for a while until the rest of the West gets it through their heads what it means to be truly terrified.

Posted by: allknowingguy | September 3, 2009 10:12 PM | Report abuse

rsmc1 What is this? A forum for illiterates?

Tell you what - LOOK IT UP. The draft has already been found CONSTITUTIONAL, in court. What is in your head as possibly unconstitutional does not matter. What plain ignorance. You remind me of Ed and Elaine Brown here in NH: income tax is unconstitutional! Yeah so you can think from a jail cell.

And I don't mind tell you young man, past'n cuts from The Constitution, as though you just found it out, do not mean much, it's very lazy and lazy-minded.

And if you can't take tough talk from grownups, too bad. Get out of the fire.

Posted by: AIPACiswar | September 3, 2009 10:12 PM | Report abuse

rsmc1 - And selective service is in force, so we have all of the addresses and names and social security info on all of you "draft eligible" kids right up to 35 if they still use the rules they did in the 60's

A draft is unconstitutional, wow what simple minds.

Posted by: AIPACiswar | September 3, 2009 10:15 PM | Report abuse

typical neo-con lies and fear-mongering.

"Long-time allies of the United States would have to... take matters into their own hands."

bout time.

"If we are willing to hand over Afghanistan and Iraq to radical terrorist forces, where would we not retreat?"

our own borders.

"We are not in Iraq and Afghanistan today on a lark."

trumped up lies over imaginary WMDs is the world's biggest lark.

"The price of our failure would be enormous, both in the region, and, potentially, at home."

these imperialist neo-cons love to fear-monger. still, i'm surprised Kagan didn't drop any of the typical boring cliches like "cut & run" or "they hate us cuz our freedumz."

Posted by: millionea7 | September 3, 2009 10:22 PM | Report abuse

AIPACiswar, you don't win any arguments by insulting people and saying hateful things about Jews and others. You need to examine why you're so angry. I doubt it has anything at all to do with Jews or rsmc1. (And yes, judging by the rarity of reasoned argument, this does seem to be a forum for illiterates.)

Posted by: emmet1 | September 3, 2009 10:35 PM | Report abuse

AIPACiswar, why should I argue with you that Iran's leaders are by their own rhetoric and apocalyptic faith committed to attacking Israel with nuclear weapons, when it's perfectly clear from your anti-Semitic spewings that you would welcome such an event?

Posted by: emmet1 | September 3, 2009 9:37 PM


emmet - You are DELUDED. You've invoked Hitler, then it's anti-Semitism when Israel is brought up, now I'd welcome your imagined delusion. Blah blah blah. You're just a bigot with a preference for the Jews via Israel (but probably not reform Jews, you like to see them out of Israel.) You can't see what's going on so you pull the old canards out.

Both orthodox Jews and orthodox Muslims are birds of the same feather fighting over lies invented in the desert centuries ago. But it's all the Arabs fault. Let's not mention Israel's murderous invasion of Lebanon, and it's giant internment camp called Gaza.

I don't argue with sheer bigots, so don't you worry about arguing with me.

Posted by: AIPACiswar | September 3, 2009 10:44 PM | Report abuse

AIPAC Old men are always right because,...well they are! And that's the end of it. No worries here because when you're dead and buried I'll still be here. Probably a lot older so I can be a jerk and shout down and insult any "child" who has a different viewpoint than me. Condident in the fact that I am always right...Right? Rot!!

Posted by: rsmc1 | September 3, 2009 10:46 PM | Report abuse

This is the usual warmongering, hysterical rant by neo-cons. Sounds like those who supported the war in Vietnam by arguing withdrawing from there would lead to the communists taking over all of southeast Asia, including the Philippines.

Ending military intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan will not in the least affect national security interests in the Middle East. "The Post," if it wishes to allow such nonsense by warmongering neo-cons to be published should have greater balance by having more progressive columnists, such as bringing back Dan Froomkin.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | September 3, 2009 11:09 PM | Report abuse

AIPACiswar, I "invoked Hitler" only because Ahmanutjob is a big fan and wants to finish what Hitler started. I'm careful not to conflate opposition to Israeli policies with anti-Semitism, but you, in your 9:29PM post, said the "Jews are out of their minds ...".

You call me "deluded", but you compared the Israeli leadership to the terrorist-supporting Iranian mullahs. The Israeli defense minister, unlike his Iraqi counterpart, is not an international fugitive accused of a terrorist bombing in Argentina that killed 70 innocent humans.

Posted by: emmet1 | September 3, 2009 11:13 PM | Report abuse

I meant "Iranian counterpart", not "Iraqi".

Posted by: emmet1 | September 3, 2009 11:14 PM | Report abuse

Kagan avoids answering the most important question. How do you define success such that the United States finally could withdraw its military forces from Iraq? I fear Kagan wants the United States to maintain a permanent military presence in Iraq. To compound that, Kagan does not consider how much this is going to cost.

Posted by: brwntrt | September 3, 2009 11:27 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Kagan is simply a control freak. We don't need spheres of influence. We need to mind our own business and let other nations mind theirs.

Posted by: rwheeler1 | September 3, 2009 11:40 PM | Report abuse

Still waiting for Kagan (or any of the other armchair warriors in Fred Hiatt's treasonous neocon editorialist posse) to actually enlist.

Go ahead, put your sizable rear end where your mouth is, fatso. Enough people have died for your chickenhawk corporate/zionist dreams.

Posted by: B2O2 | September 3, 2009 11:52 PM | Report abuse

People like Kagan know that continued involvement in these countries will weaken our economy, destroy American jobs, and lead to the rise of commie China, WHICH IS EXACTLY WHY HE WANTS US TO STAY IN THESE COUNTRIES.

It's time we realize that people like Kagan are not pro-Americans, they owe their allegience to foreign nations. I just want to know why people like Kagan even get print space anymore.

Let commie China, the nation that is financing these "interventions" just have their own citizens praise the destruction of this country caused by neo-con anti-Americanism.

And, I'm onto something here. We all know that if commie China wasn't behind these wars, they'd stop financing them.

Posted by: santafe2 | September 3, 2009 11:59 PM | Report abuse

I find it ironic that every republican blindly supported the Iraq and Afghanistan wars so stridently and unthinkingly for the last 6 years while Bush was in office, but within the first six months of Obama's turn, we must now abandon these two fights. When run by a Republican, to not support the military is unpatriotic. Yet now, the same military run by a Democrat must all of a sudden be ineffective and the entire effort must be abandoned???

Posted by: blakesturges | September 4, 2009 6:55 AM | Report abuse

emmet1 wrote: "You call me "deluded", but you compared the Israeli leadership to the terrorist-supporting Iranian mullahs. The Israeli defense minister, unlike his Iraqi counterpart, is not an international fugitive accused of a terrorist bombing in Argentina that killed 70 innocent humans."

My, my, what a selective memory. Have you forgotten that your former prime minister, Sharon, couldn't travel to Europe for fear of arrest as a war criminal? I know, the U.S. strong armed Belgium into canceling the indictment by threatening to move NATO headquarters to another country.

As a matter of fact, many of Israel's military honchos can't travel to Europe today for fear of being arrested for war crimes that involved the murder of many more than 85 innocents.

Other posters are correct, there is little difference in the religious fanatics that run Israel, and to a large extent America, and the "mad mullahs" who run Iran. There are two major differences that pose a danger, however. Iran has no nuclear weapons and we don't have to worry about that country attacking anyone. Israel has nuclear weapons and they have attacked Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Libya, and the United States.

And you say we should worry about Iran?

Posted by: Lazarus40 | September 4, 2009 8:12 AM | Report abuse

Let's close up shop for a while and take care of our own problems focus inwardly - on infrastructure, health, and our economy. Reopen our own hot side steel mills, make 'build American' a reality and not an empty slogan, fix the agricultural system to a pre-1964 model, and bring the boys home.

We've done more than our share of heavy lifting overseas for almost a decade - it's time to call it a day.

Posted by: docwatson223 | September 4, 2009 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Lazurus40, I'm an American, so Sharon is not my former prime minister. I'm not Jewish either, in case you wondered. I'm a Zionist only in spirit.

The fact that kooks in Europe want to arrest Israeli officials for "war crimes" means nothing. They also want to arrest Americans. Europe is infested with leftists who, like our own, despise Israel and essentially do not recognize its right to exist.

Anyone who thinks Israel is run by "religious fanatics" doesn't follow Israeli politics. The religious parties, while sometimes pivotal in Israel's multi-party system, hold a minority of seats in the Knesset and have never headed an Israeli government. The average Israeli is no more fanatical about his religion than is the average American.

Israel has made peace with most of its neighbors, either de jure or de facto, and has been trying for decades to make peace with the Palestinians. Few Israelis want to rule over Palestinians -- they just don't want to be murdered by them.

Gaza illustrates the folly of turning over land to bloody-minded terrorists. Until Palestinians accept the fact that Israel will continue to exist as a Jewish state, which the PA recently affirmed they emphatically do not accept, there is no possibility of peace. Also, of course, Iranian proxy Hamas will never accept the existence of Israel.

Netanayahu is far more concerned about the existential risk to Israel of Iranian nukes than he is about the Palestinian "peace process", which is going nowhere. Look for Israel to act against Iran within the next six months.

Posted by: emmet1 | September 4, 2009 10:45 AM | Report abuse

It is so disheartening to continue to read the likes of Kagen and Kristol, whose underlying premise is that we must continue an impossible war with Islam, for the benefit of Zionist Israel. This is our doom.

As to the specific reasons Mr. Will is right on withdrawal from Iraq, Professor Juan Cole today at his excellent website (http://www.juancole.com/) summarizes better than most the reasons Mr. Will is correct.

1. The past 6 1/2 years in Iraq has produced 4,327 American dead and 31,483 wounded.

2. The US military is exhausted and needs a break.

3. Afghanistan is spiraling down.

4. It is a poor use of US troops to deploy them for a) nation-building or b) baby-sitting and correcting other peoples' politicians.

5. The Iraqi government is an ingrate and makes no secret of its belief that it does not need US troops.

6. It may be true that Iran will inherit Iraq as a client if the US leaves, but this outcome is unavoidable and cannot be forestalled by a longer US stay.

7. An extension of the US presence in Iraq will not succeed in ensuring Iraqi democracy, which is fragile and may not survive regardless of what the US does.

8. A longer US stay cannot prevent Iraq from falling back into civil war.

9. Either the surge succeeded or it did not. If it did, then Iraq is secure and the US isn't needed. If it did not, then no further surge is likely to.

This is a disaster which was clearly foreseen and for which the blowback will be many decades in consequence. We have only inflamed the most extreme elements in Islam with these wars and validated the premise of bin Laden that we must be ejected from the Arab and Muslim world, shattered our army, bankrupted our state, worsened our geopolitical position, and delayed the essential SC 242 settlement between Israel and Palestine.

Read again the Project for a New American
Century and weep for its consequences to our country.

Posted by: tarquinis1 | September 4, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Before we invaded Iraq, Kagan and his ilk made many extravagant claims about the benefits that would result from the invasion. None of those benefits has materialized. Saddam's regime, as we now know, was no threat to us. And rather than bringing a new stability to the region, removing Saddam has merely tilted the balance of power to Iran.

Now Kagan has a new argument for the war he and the other Neocons urged on us: our invasion may not have made things much better, but if we leave things will get much worse.

Given the track record of the Neocons, I really don't see why anyone would take seriously anything they say. I certainly don't. There may be arguments that should be made in favor of continued military involvement in Iraq, but if so it is better they be made by people whose arguments have not proved so disastrously wrong in the past. The best thing Kagan can do to help his cause is to keep his mouth shut.

Posted by: continental46@aol.com | September 4, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Kagan, locate the nearest recruiting office.

Posted by: jckdoors | September 4, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

"To withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan simultaneously would be to abandon American interests and allies in the Persian Gulf and greater Middle East."

Besides Exxon oil profits, what are American interests?
Who are American allies in the Persian Gulf and greater Middle East? Surely not the Saudi's.

Posted by: knjincvc | September 4, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Frankly Kagan does not warrant a passing mention in the same sentence as Will, which is, in every sense I have ever seen, the very model for an educated conservative. My face contorting, stomach churning assessment of this nonsense article it that Kagan is a sycophant that believes playing the role of water boy will win him positions of favor with party elites.

Get a clue Kagan.

Posted by: MasterPangloss | September 4, 2009 5:49 PM | Report abuse

emmet1 wrote:

"I'm not Jewish either, in case you wondered."

Of course you aren't.....hasbara.

"I'm a Zionist only in spirit."

Of course you are.....hasbara.

Posted by: Lazarus40 | September 4, 2009 7:14 PM | Report abuse

lazarus, I had to Google "hasbara" to learn it is Israeli public diplomacy. Do you think I could get them to send me a check?

What's the word for Hamas public diplomacy? Maybe you could get a check too.

Posted by: emmet1 | September 4, 2009 9:01 PM | Report abuse

"fzdybel, Israel has no desire or capacity to "dominate the region". Their goal is the more modest one of survival. Iran has threatened to "wipe them off the map" ..."

The better translation was that Israel must vanish from the page of time. He's right too. It needs to go, along with all the other theocracies, democratic or otherwise. As for Israel, Israel believes that survival is equivalent to dominating the region militarily. Don't be disingenuous.

Posted by: fzdybel | September 5, 2009 12:49 AM | Report abuse

My proposal -- which, I hasten to add, I have no reason to believe the US govmnt has the guts to actually implement, so I'm just blue-skying here ... First, yes, withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan. But then, secondly, publicly announce that any 9/11-style attack upon the soil of the United States or any of its allies -- think Spain, think London -- will result in the immediate and total destruction of one Islamic city. Which city? Doesn't matter. Pick one. Then actually do it. When Damascus and Tehran were sheets of radioactive glass, I'll betcha money we would see a marked change in the Islamic attitude toward the West. But as I said, this will never happen. JIM

Posted by: jimcowles | September 5, 2009 7:32 AM | Report abuse

George Will finally put in print -- after six years of mumbling on the subject -- what he knew after all this time.

Kagan, in his picture, looks a little overweight: a jolly armchair warrior.

We have soldiers and Marines pulling three, four, five tours. Kagan ought to at least pull one.

Kagan doesnt appear to understand the cost of endless war.

We can pull back, restore our forces -- because we know we can always "reach out and touch someone" when we need to.

There is nothing "robust" about occupation duty --- and taking,retaking the same area over and over again.

Posted by: Marcaurelius | September 5, 2009 9:26 AM | Report abuse

Marcaurelius, you say "Kagan doesn't appear to understand the cost of endless war". Do you? How do you think wars end? My reading of history is that in rare instances both sides weary of fighting and the war just peters out. More often one side wins and the other side loses and the loser pays a terrible price. Wars don't end until BOTH sides stop fighting.

We can give up and allow Afghanistan and Iraq to collapse into chaos, but the war won't be over. Our enemies will celebrate the defeat of the infidels, know that Allah will lead them to victory, and then prepare to hit us again. The jihadist war against Western civilization will not end until either they bring us to our knees and establish the dominance of Islam or we destroy them.

The jihadists may be backward and stupid, but they have some crucial things that we lack -- a belief in the rightness of their cause and an implacable will. They see us as cowardly and decadent, and I fear they are correct.

Posted by: emmet1 | September 5, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

The Vietnamization of the middle east. Give up strategic dominance we don't even have!! We have the illusive pursuit of it which is totally futile as all powers throughout history have found. You can get a toehold in someone's backyard and stay there defending and taking casualties for a long time but eventually you end of leaving anyway. So just what are we buying with money and blood and how long are we willing to keep doing it? George Will in his newfound reasonableness is just out to give the war to Obama after years of being silent.

Posted by: Wildthing1 | September 5, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Kagan's article is the first I've read that could have been written almost word-for-word in the 60's and 70's about Vietnam.

In Iraq we're doing the same thing we've been doing since the ouster of Saddam; delaying the inevitable clash between 3 ethnic groups. That's our only role and isn't remotely worth the sacrifice of people and wealth.

In Afghanistan we're unwelcome invaders to most of the population, and are being viewed that way more and more as time passes.

Our enemies don't require these countries as safe havens. To a great extent, they could operate comfortably out of hotel rooms here in the U.S.. This has always been a problem better dealt with through a political and police approach rather than predominantly military. Unfortunately that approach didn't satisfy the arrogant swagger of the previous administration.

Posted by: DannyH8r | September 5, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

You posters referring to Vietnam don't know your history. We decisively defeated the Viet Cong -- they were never a factor again after the Tet offensive. The Viet Cong are the analogue of the Taliban or AQ in Iraq. They were the insurgents or irregular forces we had to eradicate village by village. In General Petraeus, we have a master of counter-insurgency strategy and tactics. We should give him a chance in Afghanistan to repeat his Iraq success.

After Watergate, the Democratic Congress cut off all military aid to South Vietnam, and we watched passively as North Vietnam invaded and conquered the South. The Iraq analogy would be if Iran now invaded Iraq and we did absolutely nothing. To be sure, if we leave a vacuum there, Iran will fill it one way or the other.

Posted by: emmet1 | September 5, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Everyone got a while ago that President Obama owns it all now. The WaPo just got that, I guess.

OK, so Kagan is saying that the political left's position to do just that is bad, until Obama became president, then Afghanistan became, overnight, a war of necessity, now we should only abandon Iraq, right?

Huh? How did we get the far right(Will) meeting the far left(Dionne) and Kagan not liking it?

Posted by: thelaw1 | September 5, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Will initially supported the war in Iraq but turned against it several years ago. He opposed the surge and might feel vindicated if -- now that AQ and the Shia militias have been defeated -- the country still collapsed into sectarian slaughter.

Will has supported the war in Afghanistan until now, and his sudden call for our immediate withdrawal is bizarre. I've been an admirer of Will for years, and I'm afraid he's becoming feeble-minded -- not just because of his reversal on Afghanistan but because of the weakness of his argument.

Posted by: emmet1 | September 5, 2009 4:57 PM | Report abuse

If it weren't for the draft, you people would be writing your comments in German, or maybe Japanese.

Earlier some moron opined that we could just hide behind our borders. Well, dimwit, when the Taliban and AQ are sitting in Karachi controlling the Pakistani nukes, what hole are you going to hide in?

Does anyone with a positive IQ really think that those fanatics care if we blow up two or three or twenty Muslim cities? Their goal is to destroy us and they don't care how many people have to die to get it done.

The educational system in this country is a disaster. And so, apparently, is the gene pool.

Posted by: neilwied | September 5, 2009 7:30 PM | Report abuse

Where does WaPo dig up all these war-mongering neo-cons? War is their first and only solution to any problem. Then, after the war has started they give us that old Domino Theory. Remember it? We couldn't leave Viet Nam because if it collapsed and went Communist, all of Southeast Asia would go Communist. The talking heads went on a scare campaign instilling fear into Americans of the dire consequences of withdrawing from Viet Nam. 58,000 American boys killed at a young age before they'd had the chance to make a life. And these talking heads, politicians and generals didn't send their own sons to fight. They sent the poor and those with no influence or political pull. It was disgusting.

And now they're up to the same old dirty tricks.

The surge has solved nothing in Iraq no matter what these right wingers tell you. All the US has done is bribe the Sunnis to stop fighting and the cost is in the billions. That devil's bargain will collapse in time whether we are there or not. Just as in Viet Nam, when the talking heads started their campaign, we had already lost the war and now we have already lost in Iraq.

And Afghanistan... we will never defeat them and continuing this insanity is not worth the blood toil and tears. We are bankrupting the nation with these wars.

Mr. Kagan says the balance of power will shift to anti-US forces if we leave. That balance has already shifted and our inevitable defeat in Iraq and Afghanistan is just the canary in the coal mine.

Posted by: flamingliberal | September 5, 2009 7:46 PM | Report abuse

flamingliberal, more than three million people were murdered in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos after the war. That may not be a fulfillment of the Domino Theory but it was a catastrophe by any human standard. Also, the Soviets were emboldened to invade Afghanistan and foment communism in Central America.

If you can't understand what a boost an American defeat in Afghanistan would give the jihadists, you haven't thought it through. According to OBL, our previous defeats, such as in Vietnam, Beirut and Somalia, and the jihadists' earlier victory over the Soviets made AQ appear to be the strong horse everyone admires and us decadent and cowardly losers.

A resurgent AQ would threaten Pakistan, Iraq, and probably Egypt and Saudi Arabia, weak autocracies whose rulers are despised by their people. Radical Islam of all varieties, including Iran and its terrorist proxies, would be on the attack everywhere. Soon they would hit us harder than before.

AQ hasn't looked so strong in recent years, but, like an opportunistic infection, they're poised to return if we weaken.

Posted by: emmet1 | September 5, 2009 8:46 PM | Report abuse

Enmet1: I don't know how many were murdered in Laos or Viet Nam, but the tragedy of Cambodia was shocking. That being said, to equate that massacre with the US defeat in Viet Nam is a non sequitur. One action did not directly cause the other. The war in Viet Nam was an immoral and undeclared war, in addition to being unconstitutional. Like Iraq, it was built on lies and lost the support of the populace.

The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan had nothing to do with our defeat in Viet Nam. The Soviets were asked to come into Afghan by the legitimate government at that time to fight the Taliban which the US armed to the teeth to the tune of billions. We are reaping what we sowed there.

You say I haven't thought through the effects of an American defeat on the jihadists. Perhaps. But I do not see them as I think you do. That is not to say that I personally agree with thei brand of religious fundamentalism practiced by many of them, or their treatment of women or gays etc.

As I see it, the jihadists are primarily a fundamentalist, conservative Islamic political alliance outraged over the treatment of the Palestinians and other Arab states in the region. They are particularly incensed at the role the US plays in its support of Israel. and blames the US as the real source of power and destruction in the region. There are fundamentalists among them but they are not all religious fanatics. For many of them, the question and the cause is political, not religious.

Lastly, I don't think our leaving Viet Nam caused Communist foment in So. or Central America. I think our imperialist policies coupled with extraordinary injustice and poverty.... the same causes that have always incited Communist revolutions... are what cause the unrest there.

Posted by: flamingliberal | September 5, 2009 10:04 PM | Report abuse

flamingliberal, there's no point in re-fighting the Vietnam War, but it is a fact that after the Paris Peace Accord, South Vietnam was secure. The North was thwarted but bided its time. After Watergate, we cut off military aid and did nothing but watch as the North violated the accord and overran the South.

After their take-over, the Communists sent millions of South Vietnamese to brutal re-education camps and executed thousands of others, mostly allies who had counted on us. Over one and a half million Vietnamese became refugees or "boat people", thousands of whom drowned in the South China Sea or were killed by Thai pirates. An equally grisly fate awaits our allies in Afghanistan if we desert them. Does that prospect not concern you?

You are wrong about Israel being a focus of AQ. OBL didn't even mention Israel in his post-9/11 gloatings. It was our presence in Saudi Arabia dating from the Gulf War, our proximity to the Islamic holy places, that was their main casus bellum. The left, which despises American foreign policy almost as much as the jihadis do, thinks their grievances are the same ones, but they're not.

OBL is pissed about the Moors being driven out of Spain 600 years ago, as well as the general weakness and backwardness of the ummah compared to our prosperity, scientific prowess and military power. This state of affairs creates terrible cognitive dissonance in the minds of the faithful. Islam is a worldly religion. Muhammad was a general and his successors are supposed to conquer the world, but they've been spectacularly unsuccessful in recent centuries.

Our struggle with militant Islam is an existential one having nothing to do with the things the left dislikes, such as Israel. You can't make common cause with jihadists or even co-exist. They hate people like you and Obama as much as they hate the Bushes. A victory in Afghanistan after their previous defeats there and in Iraq (which OBL proclaimed the center of his new caliphate), would clearly give them huge new confidence and would appeal powerfully to the angry young Muslims of the world.

We are much stronger in every way except for resolve and belief in the core values of our civilization. In history, those are usually decisive. Civilizations that lose their will are usually destroyed, often by less advanced but more warlike foes.

Posted by: emmet1 | September 5, 2009 11:04 PM | Report abuse

I agree we should withdraw from both Iraq and Afghanistan. It is hubris in the least to suppose that we have supplies, money, and sacred lives enough to continue believing we can police the world in the hopes that no one will attack us in any given region. What if North Korea were to attack? With what funds after our eight year war would we deal with that? What about China? What if Russia were to move? What about Brazil or some other unforseen foe? We I find uniquely amazing about the current supporters of an endless war in the Middle East is the rather inexplicable belief that seems to be coupled with the decades-long war proclamation that we have the ability to do it. To continue any war past a decade is both foolhardy and empire-like in structure, and we are, nor ever have been neither. Yes, we may lose allies. Yes, we may find ourselves facing a strategic crisis. We are already there. Unless the United States supposes to take upon itself an empire-like structure and dance on the ideals of the written Constitution that formed it, we have not the option, but the duty, to believe that other countries have the will power and strength to help fix this. We are not gods. We have limits.

Posted by: brenanderson2002 | September 6, 2009 12:23 AM | Report abuse

"You can't make common cause with jihadists or even co-exist."

They want us to leave, and we want to go. If that's not common cause, you won't find it in this world. As for not being able to coexist with them, that's exactly why we need to get out of Afghanistan. This is what oceans were invented for: to keep us from having to co-exist with people we can't co-exist with.

Demonization won't help you. When a war has people on both sides of the aisle calling for the exit, that war's days are numbered.

Posted by: fzdybel | September 6, 2009 1:46 AM | Report abuse

fzdybel, you really think the oceans will protect us? How quaint. You think losing to the pathetic stone age barbarians called the Taliban won't end our credibility forever? You think young Muslim punks won't rush to join the jihad if it's winning? You think all the parties who have chafed under our dominance, from the Chinese and Russians to the Iranians and North Koreans, won't see us as a wounded animal and take advantage?

Since the end of WWII the world has enjoyed the longest stretch of economic growth and relative peace in all of history. If we withdraw from our essential role in the world, all Hell will break loose. (No, the U.N. won't matter any more than the League of Nations did -- UN peacekeepers make good rapists but very poor fighters.) Without our muscle and will to use it, the thugs of the world will do what thugs always do when left unchecked.

Pax Americana will be remembered like Pax Romana or Pax Britannica -- as a relative respite from the constant state of war that is the historical norm, from strong states devouring their weaker neighbors. You leftists, with your fixation on America's faults, have no idea how dangerous the world is and how unstable it will become without our leadership.

These things are so obvious that I can't understand anyone not seeing them.

Posted by: emmet1 | September 6, 2009 3:03 AM | Report abuse

"You think losing to the pathetic stone age barbarians called the Taliban won't end our credibility forever? "

We don't have any credibility whatsoever. We haven't had in a long, long time, except amongst ourselves - America's reputation inside America is evergreen. As for the furriners, it's only essential that everybody else believes that we're completely crazy, and armed. What's mainly responsible for the peace since WWII is the threat of nuclear war. After reelecting Bush, our reputation for craziness shouldn't need any touching up for a couple of decades at least.

We can afford an act of sanity at this point.

Posted by: fzdybel | September 6, 2009 3:22 AM | Report abuse

"you really think the oceans will protect us?"

Only if we're sensible enough to stay on our side of them. We might need to discourage the occasional undesirable visitor from their side. Routine vigilance comes to mind, something that was lacking on 9/11.

Do you really think you can fix the clock of everybody in the world you feel we can't coexist with?

Posted by: fzdybel | September 6, 2009 3:44 AM | Report abuse

"Pax Americana will be remembered like Pax Romana or Pax Britannica"

Start getting your terminal encomiums for Pax Americana together. Speaking of no longer being credible, I guess if our "vassal state" Israel attacks Iran along about next week, the jig will be about up for "Pax Americana," eh?

Posted by: fzdybel | September 6, 2009 3:54 AM | Report abuse

fzdybel, you see America as the source of most of what's wrong in the world; I see us holding back the next dark age. You think we are bullying the weak and forcing our values on other cultures whose ways are equally if not more valid than our own; I think the international system of the post-WWII era, which we have made possible, has served the people of the world quite well, especially since the fall of the Soviet empire. You see us as imperialists; I see our peaceful borders with our militarily much weaker neighbors, our lack of overseas possessions, and our magnanimous treatment of former enemies Germany, Japan and Russia. You see us as a rogue nation feared and despised by peace-lovers everywhere; I see us as being the essential nation whose military, economic and moral power holds potential regional and world predators at bay, e.g. China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, and all varieties of jihadists.

There is simply no one to take our place if we withdraw into an illusory Fortress America. No one with benign intentions, that is. The jihadists, by their own words want to bring down Western Civilization; the Chinese, who don't accept the basic principles of the current international system, want to dominate Asia and Africa, develop a blue water navy, and become the great power of the 21st century; KGB veteran Alexander Putin says the collapse of the Soviet Union was the greatest tragedy of the 20th century and seeks to re-establish Russian domination of its former empire and to use its oil and gas as economic weapons; Iran wants the destruction of Israel and hegemony over much of the world's energy supply (something Russia would welcome); North Korea is an insane asylum that wants at a minimum to exact tribute from South Korea and Japan.

Who other than us can hold these potential aggressors in check? Like it or not, we, along with a few valued allies, are the global police department. Without our willingness to continue to play our post-war role, the world collapses into its default state of war and anarchy. The Balkans in the 90's and Central Africa are cautionary examples of the potential regional collapse in places like the Middle East, East Asia, Central Asia, Eastern Europe, and of course the borders of Islam, which, as Samuel Huntington observed, are characteristically "bloody".

There's so much variance between the leftist world view and observable reality that I have to question their good faith. Whose side are they really on? What do they think will become of us when our influence in the world is on a par with Britain, France and Japan's, i.e. negligible, and less than China, Russia, and Iran's?

Posted by: emmet1 | September 6, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

"fzdybel, you see America as the source of most of what's wrong in the world"

Stop shoving your straw horse arguments in my mouth. I never said any such thing.

I could care less whether there's anybody to take our place under the groaning burden of our ridiculous military industrial establishment. As for being the world's policeman, that's not really what we're doing out there.

Your notions of geopolitics come straight from Marvel Comics.

Posted by: fzdybel | September 6, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

emmet1: Too much time has elapsed between posts so this is perhaps, inopportune. There is also too much to address in your above post so I address those points most important to me.

1st. I do not think I would make a very good spokesperson for the left but we essentially disagree on what kind of country the US is. To you, the US is a force for good... always. Not so, for me. To me, the US is an imperialist power and will have enemies with legitimate grievances as long as it's an imperialist power.

Ossama Bin Laden has mentioned our support for Israel numerous times and so has the Taliban. Their grievances against us are numerous and yes, our maintenance of a an autocratic and corrupt Saudi regime is one of many of their grievances. These "Jihadists" as you call them are not cut from one cloth. That is a major mistake from the right. They always paint groups, especially groups they don't like, with a broad brush and they paint them the same color.

You say we can't coexist with jihadists. We have to. We have no choice.

Much of what you say about Viet Nam is opinion, not fact.
There, we confronted in the person of Ho Chi Minh as leader a whole country united in its opposition to our presence right down to the poorest villagers. We were unable to defeat such a determined foe that was willing to fight to the death and for as long as it took. The right wing has never been able to accept that defeat and to this day manufactures reasons for our defeat that mask the truth: A determined people united and armed will never be defeated.

That is Afghanistan today. We will never defeat them. And to ask us to keep sending our sons and daughters there to die is criminal.

Iraq too. With billions, we bought off the Sunnis but that bargain can't last. We will have to leave eventually so what will it all be for? What did all the lies gain except for the oil companies? That they had to lie to us to get the war they wanted should tell you something. They cared not not one whit about how tyrannical Hussein was. They wanted his oil, pure and simple. The war criminals should be in jail.

The right wing does our country a grave disservice by not questioning the motives of our leaders, not admitting who and what they really are and maintaining, against every piece of credible evidence, that the US has God on its side and can do no wrong and has never done any wrong.

Posted by: flamingliberal | September 6, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

"Who other than us can hold these potential aggressors in check?"

If we don't start calling our shots we're going to find out sooner rather than later.

You keep coming at this as if it were a choice. It's not. The only choice we've got is how hard we want to land. If you want to preserve American power for as long as possible, we need to get out of Afghanistan.

Posted by: fzdybel | September 6, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Even before considering withdrawal from Afghanistan, the U.S. military should call off their mercenaries. After the scandal of Blackwater, the German papers these past days have published photos of an orgy on the grounds of Kabul embassy. The participants in this drunken party? Members of the security guards from Armor. Does anyone care to comment on this scandal?

Chris Brown in Hamburg

Posted by: chrisbrown12 | September 6, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

frzbel, I've never read a Marvel comic, but I have read a lot of history and current events. I think your view of the world is more cartoonish than mine. While I don't see the U.S. as perfect, I do recognize our essential role in the world -- as has every president of the post-war era with the possible exception of a certain peanut farmer.

We do need to pick our spots and not waste our resources where we have no vital interests. That's why we did little in the Balkans and next to nothing in Central Africa and Darfur, less than I would have had us do.

We pursued a flawed strategy in Iraq before Petraeus, and in Afghanistan we've failed in almost eight years to develop a potent Afghan army. I think Petraeus will figure out how to reach our realistic goals without squandering our resources. The nation-building project needs to be scaled back as unattainable, and organizing the Pashtuns against the Taliban should become our primary goal. We are by all accounts far more popular than the Taliban, who are hated, so it's not a fool's errand to help the Afghanis defeat or at least to contain the Taliban.

So far, we have lost 814 brave Americans in almost eight years of fighting in Afghanistan, a terrible loss but a fraction of the human cost of our other wars. Given the crucial importance of defeating AQ and the Taliban, we should not even consider accepting defeat.

flamingliberal, I don't see the jihadists as cut from one cloth. AQ is different from Hamas, which is different from Hezbullah. AQ and Hamas are Sunni; Hezbullah Shia. Hamas and Hezbullah are Iranian proxies; AQ has been harbored at times by Iran but is not their agent. Hamas and Hezbullah are focused on destroying the "Zionist entity"; AQ is more interested in hitting us, our European allies, Turkey, Indonesia, India, etc. What unites all the jihadists is their contempt for western modernity and tolerance, their hatred of Jews, Hindus, Christians and Buddhists, and their methods -- terrorist attacks on innocent humans. They also believe that their intense conviction will defeat our ambivalence, decadence and cowardice.

You repeat the myth that the South Vietnamese welcomed conquest by the North. Isn't that belied by the North's need to send millions to "re-education camps" and by the flight of more than one and a half million boat people?

In Afghanistan, our minimum goal should be to prevent the Taliban from controlling territory. As long as we're killing them and keeping them on the run, we're better off than if we just turned the place over to them.

We've won two wars in Iraq -- one against Saddam and one against AQ and the Mahdi Army. Whether it turns out to be worth the cost is now in the hands of the venal, treacherous Iraqi politicians. Can Iraq remain an independent nation, however dysfunctional, or will it fall under the sway of Iran or into civil war? We should be doing more to influence and assist, but it's really up to the Iraqis.

Posted by: emmet1 | September 6, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

chrisbrown12

I had not heard about this latest escapade but concerning Blackwater, nothing would surprise me. All empires have their mercenaries as the government becomes further and further removed from the people. Blackwater is ours (the US). And there is little desire among the people or among our elected officials to disband this despicable force.

Can you send a link?

Posted by: flamingliberal | September 6, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

emmet1:

Your memory of the re-education camps in Vietnam differs from mine. Millions? Never.

What I remember is that members of the South Vietnam military and high government officials were sent to these camps. Lower ranking military were released after a few months. President Reagan signed a treaty with VietNam allowing the most recalcitrant to immigrate here to the US.

And, if my memory serves me correctly, the re-education camps were visited by the Red Cross and other humanitarian organizations and there were no accusations of inhumane treatment.

Imagine their plight had our CIA been in charge.

Posted by: flamingliberal | September 6, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

"We do need to pick our spots and not waste our resources where we have no vital interests."

Do tell, and what are our vital interests in Afghanistan? The best you've been able to come up with is that we won't look scary anymore. You think Dave Petraeus is going to fix it all, eh? Last I heard, the Taliban weren't taking bribes. I guess he's going to have a tough row to hoe.

Posted by: fzdybel | September 6, 2009 5:01 PM | Report abuse

"As long as we're killing them and keeping them on the run, we're better off than if we just turned the place over to them."

The longer we kill and chase, the longer we're a military presence in Afghanistan, the better off the Taliban are. Time is on their side, not ours. Why do you think they're growing in size and influence? The locals back in the hinters are fed up with us. The sooner we leave, the less of a free ride the Taliban get politically, and the less likely they'll wind up owning the place after we're gone.

Posted by: fzdybel | September 6, 2009 5:28 PM | Report abuse

flamingliberal, I should have said "several hundred thousands" of Vietnamese were sent to the "re-education camps" instead of millions. The prisoners included low-ranking government employees such as mail clerks, as well as important officials. All were required to confess their "crimes" and to perform hard, often dangerous labor. Many were used to clear mine fields -- by walking across them.

These gulags were as harsh as anything in Russia or North Korea. You can find horrific accounts and pictures on the web. The fact that the Red Cross visited them means nothing -- they also visited the Hanoi Hilton and reported our captured pilots were being treated according to the rules of war. Some prisoners were still being held as late as 2000. For you to describe the former ARVN soldiers released in the late '80s due to Reagan's intervention as the "most recalcitrant" is despicable and revealing.

Posted by: emmet1 | September 6, 2009 5:57 PM | Report abuse

My arguing with you about Afghanistan is like a Yankee fan and a Red Sox fan arguing about baseball. We're rooting for different teams. I want to see America prevail. You want to see the defeat of what you quaintly call our "military/industrial complex". Taunting each other serves no purpose.

I have nothing to add except I think it's essential for your side to lose.

Posted by: emmet1 | September 6, 2009 6:16 PM | Report abuse

My last post was a response to fzydbel.

Posted by: emmet1 | September 6, 2009 6:17 PM | Report abuse

"We're rooting for different teams."

I disagree emphatically, but you may as well console yourself that this is the case, you don't seem to offer any argument whatever to the points I've made about why getting out of Afghanistan is the better thing for America and Americans.

There's nothing quaint about the military industrial complex, except its Cold War-sized feedbag. That's looking a bit anachronistic alright.

Posted by: fzdybel | September 6, 2009 6:46 PM | Report abuse

"I have nothing to add except I think it's essential for your side to lose."

Too late. Thanks to the recession and eight years of foreign wars, militarism is on the skids in this country. We're leaving Afghanistan, the only question is how soon.

Go buy a couple of boxes of toy soldiers is my advice.

Posted by: fzdybel | September 6, 2009 7:04 PM | Report abuse

Believe or not I read all your posts waiting for my lunch. Where will France be without its Muslims from Algeria. Nodody to sweep the streets, no body to collect the garbage, no body to hose dow the pyswoirs. No nody on the forum fought one day in North Africa. France was fighting 100 years in Algeria. Now they are free to fight a six way civil war. As Abwar Sadat said in prison "First comes Saturday, the comes Sunday. Will American ever have press. Thank God I will not live to see the mess your made. We will see how George Will feels when he meets our native T4 with his mongoloid child

Posted by: hondolane13 | September 7, 2009 4:45 AM | Report abuse

Half of Afghanistan is Pashtun and they have been eating the armies of empires for a long, long time. Now we can add the US to the list. The US can never defeat them.

Iraq? They can take care of and sort out their differences themselves.

The only real target we have reason to go after is al Qaeda - and they are in Pakistan and still funded by Saudis. We don't need to occupy any country to go after them. Use the drones and special forces on them where ever they hide.

Posted by: timothy2me | September 7, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

emmet1
"organizing the Pashtuns against the Taliban should become our primary goal. We are by all accounts far more popular than the Taliban, who are hated, so it's not a fool's errand to help the Afghanis defeat or at least to contain the Taliban."

So you don't read comics, worse you read the US press. Who do you think the Taliban are? The Pashtun ARE the Taliban.

The real question is if the US can cut a deal with one or more of the Pashtun tribes. Not all of the tribes like al Qaeda.

Posted by: timothy2me | September 7, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Let's have a verse of Pete Seeger's "Big Muddy". No lessons learned.

Posted by: georgepwebster1 | September 7, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

timothy2me, I understand that the Taliban are predominately Pashtun. Most Taliban are Pashtun, but most Pashtun are not Taliban. I saw an opinion poll that indicated among all Afghanis there is a 60% approval rating for the U.S. but only a 6% approval for the Taliban. I saw a similar poll showing that Hamas's approval in Gaza has fallen sharply. Terrorists (like liberal Democrats) tend to rapidly lose popularity when they actually rule. Most Pashtun remember how grim life was under the Taliban.

I think Petraeus and McChrystal can devise a winning strategy to lure the Pashtun tribes away from the Taliban, similar to what was done in Anbar. McChrystal says that most of the Taliban are not true believers and that many can be flipped to our side with the right incentives. We need to make clear that we are the winning side and that the terrorists have no future. As OBL said, most people will pick the "strong horse". We must never allow our enemies to appear strong.

Posted by: emmet1 | September 7, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

georgewebster1, Pete Seeger was an acknowledged member of the Communist Party U.S.A., i.e. a Soviet agent. His entire career was devoted to undermining traditional American values such as patriotism. His song, "If I Had a Hammer", for instance, is an overt reference to the hammer and sickle emblem of the Soviets.

Seeger's side won in Vietnam but soon disappeared into what Trotsky called "the dustbin of history" with the fall of the Soviet empire. Now they're making a comeback with such as Obama and his departed "green jobs czar" Van Jones, another acknowledged communist.

Posted by: emmet1 | September 7, 2009 4:00 PM | Report abuse

We can get out of Afghanistan when the people have a working economy, government, and security force. Building a railway from Kandahar to Karachi would enable the agrarian potential of Afghanistan to have the ready market next door. Roads, schools, electricity, and water should be built by NATO to win tribal loyalties. Feed corn sent from the U.S. could substantially increase livestock and chicken production. We need boots on the ground to hold areas and give aid directly to win Afghanistan a tribe at a time. Our cutting back on airpower has lost ground but won more loyalty having the Taliban supported by only (by Americans) 6% of Afghans in a recent survey.

Posted by: jameschirico | September 7, 2009 6:12 PM | Report abuse

I know that I am showing my age, but Kagan's arguments are the same ones made to justify staying in Vietnam. As I recall, after we left Vietnam, we continued to be one of the super-powers, and eventually remained the only super-power.

Do you suppose for a minute that the argument is bogus?

Posted by: AMviennaVA | September 7, 2009 8:43 PM | Report abuse

I know that I am showing my age, but Kagan's arguments are the same ones made to justify staying in Vietnam. As I recall, after we left Vietnam, we continued to be one of the super-powers, and eventually remained the only super-power.

Do you suppose for a minute that the argument is bogus?

Posted by: AMviennaVA
--------------
Losing in Vietnam was a serious setback in the Cold War, but we overcame it by electing Ronald Reagan in 1980. Also, communism couldn't compete with capitalism as an economic system. Maybe we'll elect a Reaganesque president in three years who can make up lost ground against the jihadists after they have chased Obama out of Afghanistan. By then, there will be a lot more jihadists to contend with if they're percieved by angry young Muslims as stronger than the U.S.

Jihadism has been around for about thirteen centuries, so we can't count on it collapsing like Marxism. And even Marxism survives in the minds, such as they are, of the left.

Posted by: emmet1 | September 7, 2009 10:11 PM | Report abuse

WE should raise the white flag of surrender as the republicans wish us to do.
Unfortunately we have to wait until the true leader of the Republicans (the homo sexual Rush L ) brings it up to allow democrats enough cover to stop this money wasting trap.

Posted by: vanwahlgren | September 8, 2009 8:13 AM | Report abuse

More drivel from a Neo-con cultist. Those psychos really love wars. And know nothibg about history.

Both the British and the Russians had to leave Afghanistan in ignominious defeat. The same will happen to us.

"Afgnahistan is the place where empires come to die." Unfortunatey, I don't remember the author of this quote. But history has proven him right.

The Neo-cons have been wrong about foreign policy for at least a decade. Yet, they keep up airing their preposterous views. There must be something funny in the air at the AEI headquarters.

Posted by: Gatsby10 | September 8, 2009 10:36 AM | Report abuse

When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains, and the women come out to cut up what remains, jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains and go to your gawd like a soldier. -- Kipling

We should recall, however, that the British lacked drones, helicopters, night vision and JDAMs.

Posted by: emmet1 | September 8, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Send Kagan to Afghanistan...

Round up all the Neocons and let them charge
STUPIDY and with Neocon Bravado
like the

Light Brigade..

Fei Hu

Posted by: Fei_Hu | September 8, 2009 7:04 PM | Report abuse

Kagan you are clearly an imperialist. Your time is coming to an end. Give it up and disappear quietly, for everyone's sake.

Posted by: mtnmanvt | September 9, 2009 10:33 PM | Report abuse

emmet1 wrote: You want to see the defeat of what you quaintly call our "military/industrial complex".
---
While you may attempt to dismiss the concept of the MIC, weapons are, in fact, the largest export of the US. Our economy is completely dependent on the manufacturing of weapons, and their sale to both sides of wars around the world. Do I want that to stop? You bet! Our country is death merchant to the world. That's shameful and wrong. Life matters more than money.

Posted by: mtnmanvt | September 9, 2009 10:38 PM | Report abuse

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