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Obama's lonely decision

So now two presidents in the space of less than three years have bucked overwhelming conventional wisdom, as well as public opinion, and decided that they did not want to lose a war. And what lonely decisions these have been. Perhaps the most disturbing thing about the last few years has been the stunningly large number of American thinkers, strategists and pundits who have been perfectly prepared to lose wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan. People talk about American decline these days, but it is not in the basic measurements of national power that American decline is to be found. It is in the willingness of the intellectual and foreign policy establishments to accept both decline and defeat.

There is a new doctrine out there that seems to enjoy enormous cache among the smart foreign policy set: fight wars until they get hard, then quit. Vice President Biden seems to be a leading proponent of this approach. While a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Biden backed the Iraq War and spent the first few years after 2003 rightly calling on the Bush administration to send more troops. But when Bush finally wriggled himself free from the disastrous strategies of Donald Rumsfeld, Biden declared the situation hopeless and called instead for breaking up Iraq into three pieces. He then proceeded to oppose the very troop increase he had so long, and so courageously, fought for. And, of course, in opposing the surge, he had the whole foreign policy establishment on his side, epitomized by the wise people of the Baker-Hamilton commission.

Many Bush supporters like to point to that president’s enormous courage in turning against the prevailing winds, disregarding not only the advice of the foreign policy establishment but of many of his own top advisers and much of the Republican party, which in early 2007 was perfectly prepared to quit Iraq to save their political skins.

But now we see President Obama doing much the same thing, turning against a majority in his own party, resisting the counsel of Biden and the wise men to head for the exits from a war that they had long supported.

It seems to me that Obama deserves even more credit for courage than Bush did, for he has risked much more. By the time Bush decided to support the surge in Iraq in early 2007, his presidency was over and discredited, brought down in large part by his own disastrous decision not to send the right number of troops in 2003, 2004, 2005 or 2006. Obama has had to make this decision with most of his presidency still ahead of him. Bush had nothing to lose. Obama could lose everything.

So what explains two presidents who could not be more different making the same lonely decision? I suspect that it is because they, and they alone, have to bear responsibility for losing. Congress is brilliant at never taking responsibility. Its members always voted for the war before they voted against it -- in Vietnam, in Iraq and in Afghanistan. The foreign policy establishment and intellectual world are much the same. They fully supported intervention in Vietnam, mostly supported intervention in Iraq and fully supported the war in Afghanistan -- until the wars got hard, or embarrassing and difficult to defend in polite company. Then they bailed, desperately trying to cover their tracks along the way, and offering reassuring images of what losing would look like. Somehow they never mention the helicopters taking off from the roofs of abandoned American embassies; the rout of Afghans, Iraqis or Vietnamese who made the mistake of trusting America’s word; or the collapse of America’s reputation as a serious world power.

Since presidents and military commanders have to take responsibility for losing, they are less inclined than congressmen and pundits to paint losing in rosy hues.

So we can thank goodness that the buck really does stop somewhere, and that the people we elect to the presidency, whatever their failings, do not want to be the ones who presided over American defeat in battle. No doubt they have a keen understanding that, while they might be applauded for losing in the salons of Washington and New York, the American public would not look on defeat so kindly. That is why I am not as worried as some of my colleagues about the July 2011 date Obama set for the beginning of American withdrawal. If we and our Afghan and allied partners are succeeding at that point, the timing may make sense. If we aren’t, it won’t. It will not be any easier for Obama to embrace defeat in 18 months than it is today.

Perhaps this same deep American refusal to accept losing gracefully will also check the foreign policy establishment’s rush to embrace American decline. The Obama administration’s ranks are filled with people, fresh from the academy and the think tanks, who talk about the need to manage American decline, and even boast about how much more sophisticated they are than the Bush people on this score. They do say all this off the record, however. Perhaps they know that many Americans would not applaud them for their sophistication. Let’s hope the man in the Oval Office knows it, too.

By Robert Kagan  | December 2, 2009; 10:42 AM ET
Categories:  Kagan  | Tags:  Robert Kagan  
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Next: Obama's tough love for Afghanistan


Remind me what we "won" in Iraq? I still haven't figured it out.

Posted by: kchses1 | December 2, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

I wouldn't say we have a new doctrine "fight a way until it gets hard and then quit". It's more like this: "if you start a war for non-essential reasons and it gets hard, then quit. Or, if you start a war, blow it so completely it becomes intractable, then quit. Or, if you start a war and achieve your objective, and your objective doesn't look like a victory to your base, then keep fighting until another president comes along, who will quit the war that has no meaning to their base."

I know the war in Iraw and Afghanistan are not serious because AMERICANS DIDN'T NEED TO DO ANYTHING EXCEPT IGNORE THEM, PER OUR LEADERS. If they had been important, we would have been asked to do something.

Posted by: djoelt1 | December 2, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Kagan is such a disgusting Neocon load. Wow what an ugly mind.... Powerful psychology for the insecure though; the written equivalent of back when you were an adolescent and a pretty girl told you, nah nah nah-nah nah!

The reason we can quit and go home is that we take our football with us. There is no downside to leaving this conflict, and there is tremendous upside ie the MONEY we save can be used as we wish, including more war on terrorists where it actually might matter.

The "fear" of "losing" is irrational in the face of the costs and benefits. Under the warmongering Kagan's theory we'd still be fighting in Vietnam right now. god I hate these Neocons!

Posted by: AIPACiswar | December 2, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

What do you mean by "lonely"?

Approx. 60 million voters voted for him knowing that he would "Finish the job in Afghanistan" which he made very clear during his campaign.

If you voted for him, you voted for this escalation.

Posted by: JRM2 | December 2, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

"Cache" is pronounced "kash" and is a storage place. In this context it should be "cachet" pronounced "kashay" implying prestige. I learned the difference 7 years ago, while I was in Afghanistan.

Posted by: firstweatherman | December 2, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Let's see if the news gives us a nightly body count toll like they did for Iraq while Bush was President?

Posted by: star_key2 | December 2, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

It's not quitting when some international terrorist thugs leave office and dumps an unjust war in your lap; leaving you to clean up the mess.

Iraq was completely unnecessary. G.W. Bush and R. Cheney lied through their teeth for personal, not national reasons, to get us into Iraq.

G.W. Bush went into Afghanistan for the right reasons: to get Osama bin Laden and eliminate Al Qaeda. Unfortunately, he was the most incompetent President in the history of this nation when it comes to effectively prosecuting a war and totally failed at both tasks. Hell, even Jimmy Carter did a better job!

Unless we are willing to go all out to totally, ruthlessly eliminate all enclaves of Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan; then any other actions in that country are a waste of time. None of this slowly ratchetting up the pressure crap. That was shown to be ineffective in Vietnam. And building up any local government before that is accomplished is also a waste of time and money.

What form of government is running Afghanistan is irrelevant; as long as it keeps their terrorists and supporters within their country and out of the rest of the world.

Posted by: mhoust | December 2, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Kagan, you're an idiot. If your boys had done this right, we'd be out of there now.

Posted by: jckdoors | December 2, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Said it in Kristol's post, and I'll say it here. The Neo-Cons are gleeful and that alwasy bodes ill for America.

The Anti-war movement will never learn. Once again they've been betrayed by a peace-talking, war-walking Democrat President.

End the bailouts, end the wars. Ron Paul 2012. He actually means what he says.

Posted by: MDD1 | December 2, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

KAGAnh on the "decline of America" is more than many can stomach.

Kagan and his little claque of zionists
are their generation's reasons, per se

of America's decline! Try the blow up of the American economy, Wall Street greedies. The rest of the world names
"AMerican Jews as the reason. per se

AIPAC's take over during the Bush administration.
Wolfowitz and Kagan, and Perle and Feith, and their neocon ilk, conned us into the Iraq war. Though many are now, Friedman of the NYTimes tries finally to wiggle out of it, the better to start their next gig. Whatever Israel wants.

And OBL says American support of Israel's savagery was the reason for 9/11. Would OBL know?

Kagan mouthing off on America's decline!

Posted by: whistling | December 2, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

"So we can thank goodness that the buck really does stop somewhere, and that the people we elect to the presidency, whatever their failings, do not want to be the ones who presided over American defeat in battle."

No, you can't "thank goodness" for that. Had Pres. Bush not been the kind of not-thoughtful, war-seeking president that he was, many, many tens of thousands of lives wouldn't have been squandered and untold billions of dollars wouldn't have been wasted on the Iraq mess.

(Of course, if you enthusiastically supported that sort of warmongering adventurism from the safety of your computer, it's probably a bit much to expect you to utter any criticism of it.)

Posted by: sembtex | December 2, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

The basic idea of going into battle is to enter with overwhelming force and know when one has won. And the purpose of winning battles is to destroy the will of the enemy. All the rest is 'window dressing'... The United States is not and never will be committed to paying any price for foreign wars in which there isn't a clear and present danger to their families, towns, and livelihoods. Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, etc, etc, etc. simply don't command support. Moral? Don't engage. It's that simple. The will of the American people and of the American Congress MUST be factored into decisions to start military adventures. --- At this point the U.S. is a 'democratic' nation with feuding constituencies 'making' decisions.... When the Constitution is superseded by an authoritarian 'command' system -- like those employed within most corporations and many nations -- then the Chief Executive can make decisions and make them stick. This was the idea between the original 'dictators': Roman emperors given complete power for 'the duration'. I really can't imagine the fickle mob of 'American public opinion' successfully pursuing a conflict to completion absent visible danger to their families....

Posted by: tbrucia | December 2, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

The commenters here really are the best! During the campaign Obama said repeatedly that he would send more troops to Afghanistan, and now when he announces that he will do exactly what he said he would do, you guys blame...Kagan! Perfect!

Posted by: puc1 | December 2, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

As much as I like clear thinking and victories: What are you fighting for?

Posted by: uzs106 | December 2, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

As for Iraq an illegal war doesn't have a right number of troops! But falling into your own self-made trap for Russia has to be even crazier!! It must be a special hell of some kind! An Empire in decline is one that is hemorraging blood and money profusely that can't even see a War against Terror is impossible and instead of using the money on security decides it can spend endless amounts of money on everything and risk accomplishing nothing as well as risk everyones life and limbs too!!

Posted by: Wildthing1 | December 2, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Kagan makes a lot of valid points. Anti-war position is so easy - the smug, know-it-all attitudes of these so-called "anti-war" activists make me sick. And I consider myself to be a strong liberal.

Somebody said "there is no downside in leaving this conflict". Really? Really? How naiive and out of touch from reality can you be? It is so easy to claim all military actions are "bad" and ignore the realities. Some of these people and their naivete makes me absolutely sick. Intellectuals my ass. The world is not black and white you know.

And some day I would like fellow liberals of mine to give credit to Bush for the surge in Iraq. There is actually a chance that Iraq could become a fairly stable country. You all "anti-war" people would've left in 2006 and Iraq would've destroyed itself. But no, ignore the realities once again.

Posted by: J_Factor | December 2, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse


Indeed, but only haft of the sentence: What do you want? Which will shall be stronger? Even that is missing. To kill for killing is not war (Clausewitz).

Posted by: uzs106 | December 2, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Quote missing:

*the purpose of winning battles is to destroy the will of the enemy.*

Indeed, but only haft of the sentence: What do you want? Which will shall be stronger? Even that is missing. To kill for killing is not war (Clausewitz).

Posted by: uzs106 | December 2, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

That's great Kagan, you write an article about the need for more troops in Afghanistan, and manage to criticize the current Vice-President, but NOT the previous President and Vice-President who got us into this mess with their ineptitude. Good job! You are a true Neo-Con.

Posted by: gposner | December 2, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Kagan is such a simpleton. He actually thinks in terms of "winning" or "losing" this war.

Tell me Kag, after we've spent a trillion dollars and thousands of lives, what will we have actually "won"?

Posted by: kurthunt | December 2, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Just wondering, since we call the evil Neo-cons "chicken hawks" for advocating war but not bodily going to fight, will Obama now be called a chicken hawk too? Also wondering: what do we call those who are completely against war? Since they aren't hawks or chicken hawks, are they simply chickens?

Posted by: puc1 | December 2, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Kagan's appeal to the notion of "the entire foreign policy establishment" is a bit much. That obviously isn't the case; just look at all the people Kagan hangs out with! In fact, many of Obama's advisors recommended that we surge in Afghanistan, and escalating our effort in Afghanistan was a campaign promise.

What Kagan's language reflects is a sense of persecution and insecurity that makes him look small. It's too bad, because I think his brother made the most convincing argument for a surge in Iraq (it convinced me, and I'm about the opposite of a knee-jerk neocon) and this Kagan has important things to say from time to time too. If you're reading this, Kagan, don't make yourself small.

Posted by: jeffwacker | December 2, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

One word for fat pig Kagan = July 2011.

Posted by: August30 | December 2, 2009 4:19 PM | Report abuse

People should be talking about the tranformation of the American framework, not "managing it's decline". The talk of decline only applies in a 19th nation-state way, clarly inapplicable in the 21st century. We have tremndous resources so we should be using them to look over the horizon not to move into semi-retirement.

Posted by: chuck2 | December 2, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Lets take our ball,
and go home?

It's almost dinner time.

Don't forget the bodybags.

Posted by: simonsays1 | December 2, 2009 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Dr. Kagan remarks on “the large number of American thinkers ... who have been perfectly prepared to lose wars.” I submit that when one realizes that one has been mistaken about one’s real interests, and about one’s obligations and options, it’s not a question of losing a war but of stopping an absurd program.

Posted by: Whatzizname | December 2, 2009 5:04 PM | Report abuse

I don't see a conflict between the "fight wars until they get hard, then quit" idea and the Obama plan. In fact, I think the strategy presented by the president goes in that direction. I believe, before leaving Afghanistan, Obama wants to play a last move in that country that hopefully achieves the security goals he wants to get.

Posted by: chquintana | December 2, 2009 5:38 PM | Report abuse

it is one of those typical americna "Clichés" when talking about "we have ti finish the job"! George W. Bush couldn´t finish any job although he was talking incesantly bout "finishing the job". Obama wants to finish the Afghanistan job as well, but first he needs to send more troops to Afghanistan in order to get this job done as quickly as possible. Besides,he is still working to finish his job in Irak which seems to be much more complicated than he thought it might be. Guantanamo has to wait before the job there gets finished, while the job in the middle east seem to have no end. Obama delivered many promises, but it seems he would finish his Presidency before any "Job could be finished".

Posted by: ismaeljabarine | December 2, 2009 6:39 PM | Report abuse

"Somehow they never mention the helicopters taking off from the roofs of abandoned American embassies; the rout of Afghans, Iraqis or Vietnamese who made the mistake of trusting America’s word; or the collapse of America’s reputation as a serious world power."

Did our taking leave of Vietnam lead to the collapse of our reputation as a serious world power? No. Most nations were relieved that we finally saw the light. It is telling that Kagan never notices that his evidence defies his conclusions.

What about the supposed embrace of "decline"? It only makes sense if you perceive the US as at sometime having essentially unchecked power. This is a view sharply limited in time to the decade following the fall of the USSR and found mainly among Kagan's ideological litter mates. Did Eisenhower attempt to stop the Soviet supression of Hungary's rebellion? Why did Reagan invade Grenada, not Cuba? They recognized limits to US power. Now when scholar's push back against Kagan's imperial program, he calls them apologists for decline.

Kagan is not wrong about Obama's courage in going against his party. He's not right about much of anything else.

Posted by: j2hess | December 2, 2009 6:40 PM | Report abuse

Why we are really in Afghanistan:
The 800-pound gorilla in the room, the beast not being mentioned, the real reason we are staying in Afghanistan (and sending in even more troops in)...
Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Ladin both stated, years before nine-eleven, that the real goal in destabilizing that region is to destabilize Pakistan, the only Nuclear Islamic Nation.
If Pakistan can be destabilized, making it possible to churn it into a Fundamentalist Islamic State, one governed by Islamic Sharia Law, then Pakistan’s Nukes would become accessible to Islamic Extremists, Maniacs who would be willing to use them to destroy "The Great Satan" (us and Europe).
We are unable to enter Pakistan as a fighting force (after all they are our "allies"), and we cannot state the above nightmare scenario out loud, without admitting our fears concerning the weakness of the Pakistani Government, headed by Asif Ali Zardari, who we view as inept, out of touch, and "hiding in bunkers" in the big cities (Karachi and Lahore). Rural Pakistan is not ruled by, and has no use for this secular Centralized Government (ostensibly) headquartered in Islamabad.
Lest we forget, it was the “The Father of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program,” Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, long revered as a Pakistani National Hero, and his top aide, Dr. Mohammed Farooq, former director-general of a key nuclear facility, who supplied sensitive technology to Iran. What is unspoken in Washington, D.C. is that Islamic Extremists and their sympathizers do not view National Boundaries the same way that we do. They are looking to create a vast Fundamentalist Islamic world, unencumbered by National Boundary lines drawn on maps…
These then are the real reasons why we are remaining in Afghanistan, to ensure (if worse comes to worse) that we are ready to jump into Pakistan to prevent their Nukes from falling into the wrong, Maniacal Hands.

Posted by: stevekeshner | December 2, 2009 7:16 PM | Report abuse

To stevekeshner: I agree with most of your assessment, except for one thing. If all that Islamist fundamentalists in Pakistan and Afghanistan wanted to do was to create an Islamist state in Central Asia, we wouldn't be in Afghanistan. We would leave the problem to Iran, China, Russia, and/or India, any of whom would crush these radicals using methods we are too squeamish to utilize. And thank goodness for the poor Afghans that this is the case; that it's we who are occupying their country instead of their neighbors. But we're there because some of the Salafist radicals now based in Pakistan have an agenda against the US and will attack us again, given half a chance. The loose nukes problem is something I am less worried about. Not because it's unlikely to happen, but because if there were ever any serious danger to "responsible" control of Pakistan's nuclear weapons, India would swiftly take care of it, or China, or perhaps even both, while we were still dithering about what to do and how to do it.

Posted by: ripvanwinkleincollege | December 2, 2009 8:08 PM | Report abuse

For 10 months I've waited patiently for some sign of leadership that would inspire me to believe that Obama could and would deliver.

Instead, I've seen him systematically destroy the hopes and dreams of the the American people, that they would finally be delivered from the nightmare of the Bush-Cheney years and be given the chance to put our own house in order, rebuild our infrastructure and institutions and reassert a position of respect among nations.

Yesterday, Barack Obama terminated that hope.

Posted by: pedjr336 | December 2, 2009 8:31 PM | Report abuse

It is not an insignificant fact that a particular individual and party presided over the decisions to go in, and how to go in. There seems to be a desire to tell us stupid voters to "get over it"-- I am not over it and neither are people who have sacrificed and continue to do so.

"Winnning" is a sports metaphor that is powerful and persuasive. Which is why we fight wars where the moral argument stands over time but also wars when there is absolutely no other option to suit our interests. Neocons chose to fight one that wasn't necessary and ignore one that was... and now of course hope and pray that Obama either escalates and in their minds justifies their bad decision or withdraws and is "weak".

Obama does indeed own this with every passing day and I am asking the same questions I asked with Bush in office... but the pox started in your house Kagan.

Posted by: Rickster623 | December 2, 2009 9:11 PM | Report abuse


No, you waited for 10 whole months for someone to do exactly what you wanted and make you feel good about your views !!! Ten whole months !!! In less than a year you have become a hapless and lost soul because your politician turned out to sometimes be plain old political??

Get over it... he was the best choice and I still believe a good one. If he turns out to be a bad one it doesn't mean the alternative was automatically good, nor the next alternative "better".

Either you voted for someone who you thought had positives to outweigh negatives or not. I did and would again. Good luck though, maybe the next President will visit your house and hug you.

Posted by: Rickster623 | December 2, 2009 9:18 PM | Report abuse


you should stick to flipping burgers at mcconalds... a job where you could gain some competence. providing advice on military and foreign policy is obviously not one of your strong points.

you are delusional. bin laden has been dead since before the summer of 2005. the bush administration were negotiating with the taliban prior to 9/11 in an effort to help unocal secure a pipeline deal in afghanistan, (jan 2001 - mar 2001).

it's a shame, guys like you giving bush and the DoD on military policy, couldn't distinguish the taliban from al-qaeda; and advised the bushies to attack the taliban... "with us or against us"...

the only mission we had was getting a few individuals.. bin laden, al zawahiri, and a few other "leaders"... there was no need for a war, really there wasn't...

admit it, bin laden got the best of bush and cheney; and then took advantage of them, because they were so predictable. admit it, you and your friends are so ego-centric, you are willing to say the dumbest things and piss in the wind.

you're pathetic.

Posted by: FranknErnest | December 2, 2009 10:00 PM | Report abuse

So, what does a country do when it has effectively lost a war but continues skirmishes based upon some sort of refusal to acknowledge defeat?

The only possible advantage for our staying in Afghanistan is to allow the military industrial complex to thrive. This might be good economically in some limited sense, but how could it be practical? Or even sane?

Afghanistan is nothing more than a never-ending treadmill oiled by the sacrifice of young Americans, ideology, and profound hubris.

We need to change the basic philosophy about how we enter into conflicts, and try to halt processes that allow us to make incredibly stupid decisions.

Most Americans do not know that Ho Chi Minh was our friend and ally against the Japanese in WWII. Ho celebrated victory in Ha Noi by reading Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, with American senators in attendance. He was starting a fledgling democracy modeled upon the US Constitution.

But because France wanted it's colonial territory back, they aligned themselves with a vicious despot in Saigon, and divided Viet Nam. Ho, then abandoned by the USA, looked to China for arms and assistance.

We LOST that war -- and for good reason.

Are we in need of reviewing the policies and machinery in the USA that allows us to make such decisions? Are we reaching the point that we've somehow become collectively pathologically stupid as a nation?

When did we begin failing to understand the basic fact that if you lose the hearts and minds of a people, you are doomed to lose the war?

If we look at it another way -- we have made our point in the Middle East. Many may believe that Bin Laden has been deified because of his acts, but he has as yet really won nothing. He has however lost hundreds of thousands of his followers' lives. Why can't we endeavor to turn the propaganda against him and his fanatics by employing his very own tactics against him?

Just as in Viet Nam, we are losing the hearts and minds in the Middle East because of our idiotic, ham-fisted approach to what is nothing more than a war of ideology.

We win every single battle -- just like in VN, but we have lost the war. When a 12 year old can take out a multi-million dollar tank with a 15 dollar IED -- not because he can, but because he believes he must -- then we must acknowledge our basic strategy is flawed.

It's time to pull out, regroup, and rethink.


Posted by: Frank57 | December 2, 2009 11:16 PM | Report abuse

Let's be honest. These neo-con think-tank people are being financed by the wealthy class who are getting wealthy off these no win wars.

The fact is that we can't win, and we won't win these wars, but one thing for sure, we have to have wars or Kagen's superiors won't be able to afford keeping up the pay-offs to him and his ilk.

These wars are about nothing but corruption, plain and simple. Billions goes into the hands of people who are getting wealthy off these wars. Does it surprise anyone that they support these wars. "It's the money, stupid." or, another way to say it is "Follow the money."

The people that support Kagan support him because they MAKE MONEY off these wars. Get it?

Posted by: santafe2 | December 2, 2009 11:44 PM | Report abuse

Obama's new initiative of eliminating terrorism and theo-facism of our times should be understood in broad historical perspective. This leader of the free world envisons a new era of peace, prosperity and freedom for mankind hitherto set under siege by forces of darkness and destruction. It is in such initiatives where the greatness of America lies. Free world has to take more than one step to join hands with President Obama. This is not only his war; it is the war of a civilization enriched by great efforts, sacrifices and sufferings made over many millennia.

Posted by: knpandita | December 3, 2009 1:45 AM | Report abuse

VP Biden mocked General Petraeus in Hearings when he said we could win in Iraq. His arrogance is astounding.

Posted by: gary4books | December 3, 2009 5:07 AM | Report abuse

"Remind me what we "won" in Iraq? I still haven't figured it out."

Our honor.

But I doubt that you pay attention to that.

Posted by: gary4books | December 3, 2009 5:10 AM | Report abuse

Just a quote:

St. Crispen's Day Speech
William Shakespeare, 1599
Enter the KING
WESTMORELAND. O that we now had here
But one ten thousand of those men in England
That do no work to-day!

KING. What's he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin;
If we are mark'd to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God's will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
God's peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.

Posted by: gary4books | December 3, 2009 5:15 AM | Report abuse

Bob, you ignorant NEO-CONman,

We haven't won anything in Iraq. The surge had only one effect, which was to postpone an all out civil war until America withdraws its forces. You're supposed to be some kind of expert, I suppose; but only a fool can't see how this is all going to play out in Iraq.

Posted by: wiatrol | December 3, 2009 7:21 AM | Report abuse

Obama is doing exactly what he said he would do during the campaign: continue the war in Afghanistan which he sees as essential to short- and long-term American security. Those who feign surprise simply weren't paying attention to what he said during the campaign. As with both Bush and Obama, Americans apparently listen so much to the prevaricating weather vanes in Congress that we are surprised when our presidents actually ending up doing exactly what they said they were going to do.

Posted by: SageThrasher | December 3, 2009 8:34 AM | Report abuse

Unnecessary wars like Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan (and many others) would never happen if Kagan and his Neocons KNEW the were forced to fight them..


Posted by: Issa1 | December 3, 2009 9:19 AM | Report abuse

If i may add another dimension to persons who actually take responsibility to fight a war, like Gen. McCrystal. Once the political process and decision to go for war is over, it is best for commanders and generals on the ground to concentrate on the present. Generals have no hand in past events & wars and they do not know the future. I have no access to Gen. David Petraeus. May I request Mr. Kagan if he can get the General’s view on this and share in this forum.

Posted by: subhasispaul | December 3, 2009 9:23 AM | Report abuse

For 10 months I've waited patiently for some sign of leadership that would inspire me to believe that Obama could and would deliver.

Instead, I've seen him systematically destroy the hopes and dreams of the the American people, that they would finally be delivered from the nightmare of the Bush-Cheney years and be given the chance to put our own house in order, rebuild our infrastructure and institutions and reassert a position of respect among nations.

Yesterday, Barack Obama terminated that hope.

Posted by: pedjr336 | December 2, 2009 8:31 PM | Report abuse

pedjr336, you obviously weren't paying attention in the run up to the election. Pres. Obama is doing exactly what he campaigned on regarding Afghanistan. I agree with the other poster - you want to hear only what you want to hear. There's no surprise with Pres. Obama's announcement - he started it off in 2008, his narrative hasn't changed.

I involuntarilly mouth vomit every time kagan writes a "piece" - and this is just another. He was part and party to both disasters - Iraq and Afghanistan - and now he wants to offer advice and criticism? Yeah. I'll respond with the same comments I'd deliver at "Dick" Cheney - GFY.

Posted by: NotFooledTX | December 3, 2009 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Kagan is talking rubbish. Obama did not decide, not to lose a war, he decided, not to lose an election. SageThrasher at 8:34 AM has it exactly right. As a candidate last year Obama accused the Republicans of neglecting Afghanistan, of turning it into an underfunded, undermanned holding action. He however would make that theater the central front in the war on terror and fight to victory.

That was not a lonely decision, it was a reckless campaign tactic, to wipe the egg off his face for calling Iraq unwinnable and the surge worse than useless. It was his way of capturing the hawkish vote.

Now, because he is a stubborn, narcissistic and a irresponsible, the president pretends that that commitment involves the protection of America's national interests. It does not. We have no strategic stake in Afghanistan. Nor does that deployment make us any safer.

When the Taliban controlled that country we merely shrugged a shoulder. We only cared after 9/11, and then mounted a punitive expedition. It drove the Taliban down into their holes, and al Qaeda into Pakistan, where they are safe from US ground forces. They don't want to go back to Afghanistan from which they escaped by the skin of their teeth. If they have to move they can find a safe nook in a dozen places from Somalia to Indonesia. Up to 1996 they were mounting their operations from Sudan. It was only by chance that Osama was sheltered in Afghanistan during 9/11. Afghanistan itself was not a factor in that attack. The perpetrators and their mastermind KSM, were not Afghans. They were mainly recruited out of Hamburg mosques. Their training was in Oklahoma and Florida, not Afghanistan. Osama's contribution was in financing the operation, but he could have written his checks from anywhere. He had no connection to the subsequent bombings in Madrid and the London underground. No one believes that Afghanistan is the central front in the war on terror. This Sunday Muslims exploded a train between Moscow and St. Petersburg killing 27 people. Afghanistan had nothing to do with that.

Kagan knows this better than I. Yet he champions this war. Because he makes his living as a war analyst on contracts for the military and institutes dedicated to the subject. War is his metier. I strongly supported Iraq. There we had vital US interests at stake. Fighting and winning there was vital. It is not in Afghanistan. And it is not worth the money and lives it will cost, even if we succeed, which we won't. Kagan is almost as irresponsible and selfish in drumming for this fight as Obama.

Posted by: nacllcan | December 3, 2009 10:23 AM | Report abuse

On or about Dec. 16, 2001, bin Laden and bodyguards "walked unmolested out of Tora Bora and disappeared into Pakistan's unregulated tribal area," where he is still believed to be based, the report says.

CHENEY, Rumsfeld's BEST BUDDY did not DITHER!

Look what we got!

C-span's photo journalist interviewing the troops - dubbing Afghanistan the FORGOTTEN WAR!

2007- 2008 USA troops- ON TAPE- stating they were in a FORGOTTEN WAR!


AND MSM is all about what DICK SAYS!

PULL those C- Span tapes and see what the TROOPS said about CHENEY!

After all - DICK ran the show!

Posted by: sasha2008 | December 3, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Yea- Americans so smart!

8+ years of a 'C' mentality and what did we get?

Attacked on September 11, 2001- the worst ever in our history!

The world warned us not to invade Iraq- What did we do?

We renamed French Fries and invaded Iraq.

WSJ/Murdoch: Dumb it Down Mr. President!

We got a bunch of AMERICANS to entertain!

8 years ago - MOST AMERICANS would not condone TORTURE!

Funny what 8 short years will do to 50 % of 'the greatest country in the world'!!

We should be proud?

The USA does not even rank within the top 25 countries in the world for education!

Go back to when Bush left Afghanistan and went to invade Iraq


Due to the fact that most Americans do not own a passport- cannot read a map-

Bush/Cheney was allowed to start WW III - and NO ONE peeped a word!

GOP CHOSE man with five deferments FOR OUR NATIONAL SECURITY





Posted by: sasha2008 | December 3, 2009 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Want to win in Iraq and Afghanistan? It's easy. Bring back the draft, raise an armies of millions, raise taxes to pay for it, and keep it over there for 50 or 100 years. We could even take on Iran. Of course, that would disrupt oil supplies, so we would probably need gasoline rationing, real rationing, with coupons. Otherwise we're just refighting the wars of The British Empire, endless skirmishes with the hill tribes on the Northwest Frontier.

Posted by: sjpatejak | December 3, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

My, Robert, you are so manly, talking about your opponents as only being willing to fight wars until they get hard, then they want to quit. I guess you're recalling all those years you spent fighting in the trenches...oh wait, right, you're just another chickenhawk who talks tough while working the Georgetown cocktail party circuit.

I love your deep thinking on how to fight wars: start them whether you need to or not, but don't ever think about ending them if it looks like you might not win (of course, you also have a little problem coming up with realistic definitions of "winning).

"Keep fighting because it would look bad if we stopped" led to things like the Charge of the Light Brigade, the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg and Gallipoli in World War One. Our entire presence in Vietnam was based on that thinking.

Cemeteries are filled around the world with men sent out to live up to the words of obnoxious cretins like you, who live on to spew out this nonsense again and again. It's a disgrace that the Washington Post gives you a chance to do it.

Posted by: baltova1 | December 3, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

This linking of Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan is invalid -- and it is just a prevarication, it is not logical, it's conservative code-wording.

Vietnam was a mistake for any number of reasons -- that we missed the true nationalist nature of it, our supposition that the NV were puppets of China and/or the Soviet Union -- but those reasons have nothing to do with Iraq or Afghanistan.

Posted by: balto20 | December 3, 2009 10:45 AM | Report abuse

That Kagan can write, with a straight face one assumes, about "the collapse of America’s reputation as a serious world power," is ample evidence of the bankruptcy of his thought, if not his idiocy. That the WaPo publishes such drivel is beneath contempt.

Posted by: mikehike | December 3, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

For once would comments on "victory" and "defeat" be prefaced with some examination of the correctness of the cause generating all this death and misery. In Vietnam the premise was that China would gobble all of Southeast Asia if we did not sustain a corrupt government in the South--wrong! Common sense break: Of what benefit would have increased numbers of troops made in Iraq if the premises for justifying invasion were dead wrong? Using Saddam Hussein as a consolation prize for waging an unprovoked war does not change the fact that we were wrong to do what we did. So before waxing on about victory and defeat, please, some discussion about morality and international law.

Posted by: j1340 | December 3, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Firstweatherman: right on. my close friends died in 2004 when a weapons
cache (cash) exploded in Afghanistan.
You're the only qualified poster thusfar.

Posted by: realitybased1 | December 3, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

I believe that there was no possibility of victory at the time Bush dragged us into these money pits. All talk of victory or winning is nonsense. The discussion about fear of losing is, in truth, recognition of reality.

Posted by: Whylee98 | December 3, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse

The Confusing mirror. I have come to a place in my life where after a lifetime of being an activist I’m trying to take a more philosophical view of world affairs and its star players. I tell myself that the leaders and circumstances that come up are a reflection of our own selves. I seem to alternate between this ideal place and familiar rushes of political anger when I perceive any injustice.
I tend to view leaders in two categories, wolves in sheep’s clothing or sheep in wolves clothing. Just when my view is certain I take another look in the mirror and I see a fuzzy reflection, then I’m no longer sure what I see.
Are the images I see through the haze the same leader that invoked positive emotions that reached the very essence of my being, just last week? Do I see my image blended in the mix because the feelings really came from me and I attributed them to him?
When I get anxious, I convince my self the state of affairs inherited by the reflection were the worst set of circumstances in our history, and this pacifies me for a while. Yet, underneath it all, I have an unsettled feeling. I then tell myself that this feeling stems from being at an early stage of the game, a complex game, which is only fair to score at the finish line.
I hope and pray that during the game the reflection will become clearer, stronger, remain there and not vanish into that huge pile of broken dreams.

Posted by: JohnMolinari | December 3, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Hopefully, Obama "turned against the foreign-policy establishment" for reasons more important than merely not accepting defeat gracefully. Kagan and others who think like him seem to have watched the movie "They Died With Their Boots On" one time too many.

LESSON ONE--INITIAL ESTIMATIONS: "Warfare is the greatest affair of state, the basis of life and death, the Way to survival or extinction. It must be thoroughly pondered and analyzed."-- Sun Tzu, ART OF WAR.

What's the point? To end well, one must AT LEAST start well, and to start well, one must know what they want to do and why they want to do it. One must not lie to oneself. Unfortunately, Bush 43 wasn't this savvy (or if he was, we don't know what he was about...). Hopefully, Obama is at least this savvy, and knows what he's doing, and we must (once again, democratically) trust that we've chosen well.

Posted by: episkyros | December 3, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

President Obama's decision didn't please anyone. To me, that probably means he thought it through and decided to do what he thought was best for the nation. Good for him!

Posted by: tinyjab40 | December 3, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Yep, President Obama made a brave and correct decision, but unfortunately he came across in his presentation as a wimp. He's simply not believable, and his academic weenies in the WO are destroying his prestige.

Posted by: johnson0572 | December 3, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

It's no surprise that Kagan finds comfort in the troop escalation. I think the premise of his argument is off base, however. I am certainly no Bush supporter, but I think neither he nor Obama made decisions because they would be held "responsible". I think both men were privy to information we don't see, and their decisions reflected what they felt was necessary to protect the country. Both may be right, both may be wrong, but I'm not so cynical to believe that these men put personal reputation above national security. Regarding the justification for these "wars", and the prospects of "victory", the problem is we are using outdated terminology. These are not "wars" as former generations have known war. There will be no "victory" with formal surrenders. These are better described as major conflicts, whose implications are serious due to the nature of modern weaponry, technology and transport. It is this new paradigm that prohibits our use of by-gone tactics from being effective. Short of eliminating every area and person who presents a threat, conventional warfare will not work. Until we adopt modern methods to address modern problems, a real solution will continue to evade us. The question is, how much time, money and lives will be wasted before we figure this out?

Posted by: mdonnelly1 | December 3, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

'Wonder 18 months later it might be recalled Obama's Stupid Decision.

Posted by: onomar | December 3, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Courageous because he offended a loud 15% minority? Or weak because he couldn't abide by the ridicule of overturning his blunt campaign support for the war. And he appeases the 47% who still support the war. Sorry show me the courageous part again?

Posted by: djmelfi | December 3, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

President Obama is being heavily influenced by an evil force that is separating him from his people, the good people of America that voted for him; this is very worrying. Somehow we must break this link and get the President back to his roots. I have written letters but believe they are intercepted and discarded. I have also phoned the community line and a pleasant retired American lady recorded my call. David Cameron is gaining power in Britain and he is also steered by Friends of Israel who pay him money to perform about $35,000 so far. I am on a mission to prevent him from securing power.

Posted by: coiaorguk | December 3, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

You comparison between Bush and Obama is laughable. Iraq was all about choice and hubris. And then, yes, not wanting to lose. Obama has no real choice in Afghanistan. He was handed a plate full of spaghetti that Bush had allowed to fester for 7 years.

Walk away? Please. Bush caused it, but it is still this country's collective problem. We blow the country up, let it go to poppy for years and then walk away because we don't like war anymore? Because we have to rebuild our economy after our "fundamentals" weren't nearly as strong as Bush claimed? We walk away and in 18 months the Taliban overruns Kabul with bin Laden close behind, cakewalking into town. No, Obama didn't have a choice. Bush had the choice and he blew it. Big time.

Posted by: tfspa | December 3, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

The war in Afghanistan is not merely one in a far-away country. It is a global war against a militant Islam that aims to destroy us. Losing would have very real consequences. The militants would be reinvigorated and would attract new militants believing they were the wave of the future. They would regain their base of operations and would begin planning more attacks. Pakistan would be under constant pressure and could collapse. Linked to a militant Iran, a nuclear nightmare would become our future.

Posted by: jacklewis | December 3, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse

I love the constant goal post moving for "winning" a war. We go into Iraq, get rid of Saddam and his party, help establish a new government, rout al-Qaeda, yet if someone manages the cowardly act of setting of a bomb in marketplace, we "lost". Tough room.
As to so many of the comments, nice to see the lunatic fringe making themselves heard. Squawk all you want: no one cares, including Obama.

Posted by: ihasch | December 3, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Yonkers, New York
03 December 2009

Kagan seems incorrigibly for America winning all the wars it engages in, including this 8-year-plus old Afghan War started by George W. but which he practically abandoned and instead diverted U.S. forces there to invade and attack Iraq.

Now it is President Obama who has inherited the job of fixing the mess that George W. left behind him in Afghanistan. This is now Obama's War.

In his Tuesday speech before cadets of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama let on that he had decided to surge 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan, but that he also had decided to start the withdrawal of U.S. troops from AFghanistan sometime in July of 2011.

The inference to be drawn from this Obama statement is that by sometime middle of 2011, it will already be clear that the glimmer of "victory" for U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan will already be in sight after a long dark night of hard struggle.

That, I say, is wishful thinking.

Like the British and like the Soviets, America will very likely bite the bitter dust of defeat in Afghanistan. It is not for nothing that it is known as "the graveyard of empires."

Mariano Patalinjug

Posted by: MPatalinjug | December 3, 2009 5:17 PM | Report abuse

I never cease to be amazed at how far out of touch the left is. It is rare to find someone on the left with real world experience with anything they profess to have knowledge on.

The left has nothing to offer, but hate, whining and venom. It would be wonderful to see someone from the left actually stand up and serve the country, take on a hard task that required sacrifice for something larger than themselves. Until that happens, all they have to offer is comic relief.

Posted by: johne37179 | December 3, 2009 5:22 PM | Report abuse

"Remind me what we "won" in Iraq? I still haven't figured it out"

Abu-Musab Zarqawi and Al-Qaeda declared Iraq to be the central front on terror. It is true that the original invasion was a mistake, as Al-Qaeda was not originally there. But after we invaded, Al-Qaeda did indeed show up.

That is what we won, or salvaged, to be more precise.

Posted by: princeps2 | December 3, 2009 5:30 PM | Report abuse

"Remind me what we "won" in Iraq? I still haven't figured it out"

Abu-Musab Zarqawi and Al-Qaeda declared Iraq to be the central front on terror. It is true that the original invasion was a mistake, as Al-Qaeda was not originally there. But after we invaded, Al-Qaeda did indeed show up.

That is what we won, or salvaged, to be more precise.

Posted by: princeps2 | December 3, 2009 5:30 PM | Report abuse
Are you kidding me??? This simply does NOT represent logical thought.

We have won NOTHING. But the oil oligopoly and military industrial complex has won handily....

Posted by: wise_pharaoh | December 3, 2009 9:10 PM | Report abuse

I've read many of these posts, and wondered about the reasons for much of the discourse, slander and propaganda. Then like a bolt of lightning it hits: America is like a famous Rock Star that has attained success too quickly.

This country has a President with a 92% world approval rating. Instead of backing Mr. Obama and trying to parlay that fame to some kind of advantage, people complain about each attempt to make America once again the envy of the planet.

Like many a famous personage, America has decided to self destruct. We can't handle the constant scrutiny, the adoration, the fame. We're so jealous of ourselves, we feel we don't deserve the accolades because we think we haven't earned them. Well. perhaps we do deserve a bland and mediocre President without charisma or charm.

Have no fear, America; those days will live and breath again.

Once President Obama becomes citizen Obama, this country will once again slip into obscurity. Our world ratings will plummet faster than Skylab in a freefall. Though, I hope, not as low as Mr. Bush's ratings.

We should support the policies set forth for the good of the country. Sure, we can disagree with what we think are bad policies, but options and solutions should accompany the disagreements.

We should seek ways to enjoy our newfound fame as much as possible; travel the United States, overseas and just plain enjoy the air. Go out and see the world now while we're in the position to be treated as super stars. It may take another 50 years before this kind of status is bestowed upon us again.

Posted by: doc2skate | December 3, 2009 9:28 PM | Report abuse

"He(Osama bin Laden) has however lost hundreds of thousands of his followers' lives. Why can't we endeavor to turn the propaganda against him and his fanatics by employing his very own tactics against him?"

Because we have a traitorous democrat party and idiot followers like the mind molested full of hate Sasha below and a 90% controlled liberal treason Media.





Posted by: sasha2008"

A Republican President will never be able to use Propaganda to defeat our enemies so long as there are democrats willing to betray their Country and the Constitution. democrats seeing their political party becoming irrelevant as President Bush shined in the spotlight, democrats being in the complete MINORITY became unhinged and treasonous.

All those who continue to parrot the democrat lies of why we went into Iraq or lied into going can GFY's. You pretend to care about how long we have been there and all the loss's and costs, you are the traitors who Osama claimed where the only hopes for the insurgents/terrorist's/Al Qaeda's success. You prolonged the war and caused the needless deaths of thousands of American Soldiers and I'm not going to let you forget it. You think the Soldiers are going to forget Obama was one of the loudest A holes among many responsible for the letter sent from the front lines stating...

Posted by: RobLACa | December 4, 2009 1:42 AM | Report abuse

I am more concerned and less cheerful about international world conditions than about our immediate domestic prospects. I post this not as a confirmed pessimist but as one who still hopes that envy, hatred and malice among peoples have reached their peak and will be succeeded by a new tide of good-will.

A dark old world was devastated by wars between conflicting religions. A dark modern world faces wars between conflicting idealogic and political fanaticisms in which are intertwined racial hatreds.

Posted by: doc2skate | December 4, 2009 2:03 AM | Report abuse

"conflicting idealogic and political fanaticisms in which are intertwined racial hatreds.

Posted by: doc2skate "

Obama is the worse one yet. The damage he has done and continues to try to force upon us is proof of his hate and disdain for our Country. His actions speak louder than his teleprompters words and his phony smiles. Some of us seen him coming a mile away. Obama has pissed off and betrayed our allies and our enemies still hate us. Obama is a lying fraud and hasn't amounted to squat or anything positive. Where are the *&(&* JOBS?

Posted by: RobLACa | December 4, 2009 3:13 AM | Report abuse

I love Obama and give him all the credit in the world for being able to see further down the road than the end of his nose.
We have to go into Afghanistan and finish that mess up. We started it and should not have gotten involved in it if we had no sense of winning the damn thing. Bush had no intention of doing much there, he was friends with the bin Laden's, remember???
The side-trip to honor his Daddy and kill his potential killer was on our dime and not what we signed up for after 9-11. I don't recall telling our President that we should just go to all of the Middle East while we were there and do in countries we thought were out to get us. It wasn't a multi-purpose adventure, it was to go and get the Bean Pole Guy, who sits in a cave somewhere in Pakistan where he's been since Sept. 10th I'd imagine.
We're never going to catch him, that's a given, but we must clean up the mess we created in Afghanistan. We cannot allow the Taliban to grow and grow again, can we?

Americans need to be less fickle and have less memory loss, and start recalling what we went to war for to begin with.
You Go Barack!!
Behind you in NJ, the Armpit of America!!

Posted by: Forked427 | December 4, 2009 8:01 AM | Report abuse

"Bush had no intention of doing much there, he was friends with the bin Laden's, remember???
The side-trip to honor his Daddy and kill his potential killer was on our dime and not what we signed up for after 9-11"

GFY loser. You are talking out your backside. Dumbo hasn't earned squat and doesn't give a D##n about your stupid butt. Butt(Head) you already know that.

"You Go Barack!!
Behind you in NJ, the Armpit of America!!"

Posted by: Forked427

And you just got your pit scrubbed and Republican deodorant applied. That's just the beginning.

Posted by: RobLACa | December 4, 2009 9:18 AM | Report abuse

"It seems to me that Obama deserves even more credit for courage than Bush did, for he has risked much more."

Yes and no. No, because when Bush bucked his advisors, he didn't have a precendent. No one knew the surge would work. When Obama bucked his advisors, the logic of the surge had been tested and proven to work. Ergo, far less risky.

Posted by: dkrieger1 | December 4, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Bush deserves the credit for the surge. About 4/5 of the Republicans in Congress supported winning the Iraq war via the surge. Only Democrats are willing to lose either Iraq or Afghanistan. It was they who tried to cut funding.

Obama would have never won office campaigning on a withdrawal in Afghanistan.

This was a terrible article.

Posted by: scotash | December 4, 2009 11:12 PM | Report abuse

Oh please. There was nothing courageous about this. It was a purely political, face-saving decision. He played Hamlet for several months before giving McChrystal what he asked for so he would appear thoughtful and not rash. He subtracted a few troops so noone would accuse him of caving in. He said we would begin withdrawing in 2011 because he remembers all the 'where's the exit strategy?' criticism Bush got.
This is a joke. We don't even know what 'winning' in Afghanistan would mean. The people I feel sorry for are the soldiers who will die there in this pointless exercise.

Posted by: invention13 | December 6, 2009 11:42 PM | Report abuse

Remind me what we "won" in Iraq? I still haven't figured it out.
Posted by: kchses1 | December 2, 2009 12:40 PM |
We replaced an aggressive, America-hating, terrorism-supporting, nuclear weapon building, poison gas-using genocidal dictatorship with a democratic, terrorism-fighting ally in the heart of the Middle East. The geopolitical map is changed dramatically in our favor.

PS - Last month we lost 2 Americans in combat in Iraq. The war is over. We, and our Iraqi allies, won. Celebrate.

Posted by: ZZim | December 7, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

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