Me personally, I wish the Afghan withdrawal was occurring more quickly. I mean, the main reasons we supposedly went into that country in the first place -- to oust the Taliban, disrupt al-Qaeda and to capture or kill Osama bin Laden -- have all been accomplished. No amount of blood or treasure is going to transform Afghanistan into a happysmileysuperfuntime place, so what the hell else are we supposed to do there?
But still! I'll take whatever positive developments I can get in these dark times. Except the dirtbag vultures at the WaPo op-ed board want to take this small sliver of good news away from us. Let's start with the truly sociopathic Charles Lane:
In September 1864, Union General William Tecumseh Sherman ordered the civilians of Confederate Atlanta to evacuate so that his army could burn the city. Atlanta’s mayor pleaded for mercy; Sherman refused. “We must have peace, not only at Atlanta, but in all America,” Sherman explained. “To secure this, we must stop the war that now desolates our once happy and favored country.” In Sherman’s view, sparing Atlanta, with all its resources, might indeed be humane in the short run -- but would enable the rebels to prolong the war. And that was clearly the greater evil. Atlanta must burn. “War is cruelty,” the general memorably lamented, “and you cannot refine it.”
President Obama’s policy on Afghanistan -- up to and including last night’s beginning-of-the-end speech -- could use a dose of Sherman’s tragic wisdom.
Right off the bat we've got someone who recommends basing foreign policy on the actions of a general most famous for burning entire cities to the ground. I mean, look, I've known guys who think like this in the past. They were the kids who loved torturing frogs and who loved throwing firecrackers into birds' nests. Most of them, however, wound up in jail. A lucky few of them wound up writing op-eds for the Washington Post.
Next up on our "Give War Another Twelve Chances" tour of duty is Richard Cohen. Cohen isn't against drawing down troops in the region per se, but he is saddened by the fact that the withdrawal means that foreigners will no longer respect America's formerly-invincible freedom schlong:
The American Century just ended. This was the phrase coined by Henry Luce, which so aptly described America as the modern-day colossus, more powerful than any nation had ever been. Wednesday night, President Obama said that power had reached its limit. He was bringing 10,000 troops home from Afghanistan. The war was not finished, but we are.
“America, it is time to focus on nation building at home,” the president said.
There it was, the theme of the speech. We had done what we could in Afghanistan, and there was, of course, more to do. But the purse was empty and the nation was tired -- this is me, not Obama, talking, but he said much the same thing. “We must be as pragmatic as we are passionate; as strategic as we are resolute,” Obama said. In other words, we are going to pick our fights more carefully, and when we do, we can use the new weaponry of drones and the units of SEALs and such. No need for massive armies anymore. From the president’s mouth to God’s ear, I would add.
I have heard this speech before. I heard echoes of Richard Nixon explaining “Vietnamization.” Gonna turn the war over to our stolid allies. We put them on their feet. We trained them. We supplied them. We schooled them at our elite military academies. They looked splendid in their uniforms. But when the U.S. pulled out, South Vietnam collapsed. It will happen again in Afghanistan.
You know, look, dude. We have to listen to you and your buddies wail and moan all year long about America's dire fiscal situation. You demand that politicians make "brave" cuts to spending programs that will hurt the poor, the elderly and the disabled. But you also insist that we fight three wars at maximum power at the same time. You guys can either have your Balanced Budget Pony or you can have your Freedom Bombs. But you can't have both unless you figure out a way to make the poor, elderly and disabled into explosives that can be launched at our enemies (not that I should be giving you fellas any ideas or nothing).
Next up, we have the crazed neocon Jennifer Rubin:
Obama’s recounting of the past 10 years in the war against Islamic terror (not that he calls it that) is all negative -- losses, casualties, domestic programs we have foregone. That should not be minimized. But should we risk all that we have gained for a re-election campaign? He choose not to point out the accomplishments of the decade: We have eliminated Saddam Hussein, liberated tens of millions of Muslims, made huge progress in Afghanistan. Oh, no, nevermind. The prospect that Afghanistan will come undone as Obama scrambles to keep his “promise” to bring home troops is not one that keeps him up nights, it would seem.
There comes a point when you have to ask neocons, "JESUS CHRIST, HOW MUCH WAR WILL IT TAKE TO MAKE YOU GUYS HAPPY??!!?!!!?" We've been in Afghanistan for almost ten years now. Ten years! We've been in Iraq for more than eight. And Obama's grand new illegal adventure in Libya, it seems, is just getting heated up. We've been in a state of constant, perpetual war with some Hitler or another for as long as I can remember. Hundreds of thousands of people have died because of these wars. They have not magically transformed the Middle East into Freedom Land. Don't you think that maybe, just maybe, with our country facing multiple domestic challenges we might try to fight a wee bit fewer wars in the future?
OK, so we've also got Jackson Diehl, Marc Thiessen, Robert Kagan and many other sad human beings whose lives are so empty that they can't feel joy unless America is at war with multiple countries at the same time. As I said before, I'm not at all surprised that such people exist but I am a little surprised that they're all employed by a formerly-prestigious news organization when they should really be hermetic shut-ins who drive cabs at night and then come home to play Call of Duty all day.