A show of hands -- who's really shocked that President Obama made the decision to commit 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan?
If you raised your hand, you're either incredibly naive or you weren't listening particularly closely during last year's presidential campaign. It's not so much what Obama said then as what he didn't say: He talked a lot about withdrawing from Iraq -- a war that was arrogant, unabashed folly from day one -- but never mentioned pulling out of Afghanistan. Those on the left who are now gnashing their teeth at how cheated they feel -- how their dreams of a great progressive utopia have been sacrificed on the altar of Obama's attempts at centrism and the fruitless appeasement of his political enemies -- would be wise to remember all the times they conveniently held Afghanistan up as an example of a supposedly "just war" in an effort to contrast Bush's Iraq adventure as the ultimate "unjust war." As in: "Why aren't we focusing all our attention on Afghanistan, the Taliban and bin Laden, instead of wasting time, lives and money in Iraq? Huh? Huh?"
The fact is that Afghanistan, and by proxy Pakistan, remains the main front, if there is such a thing, in the war against the entity that attacked us on 9/11; it's where we should've been concentrating every ounce of our military and strategic effort all along, before we allowed a bunch of neo-con assholes bent on remaking the Middle East in our image -- or at least Halliburton's -- to distract us in Iraq. Afghanistan is an unfinished fight and, as much as it hurts beyond belief to say this, it's one that will result in a whole lot of American kids having died in vain if we don't at the very least attempt to tie it up in as respectable a bow as is possible in a place that exists at the ass end of the world.
Would it be nice to pull all the troops out and bring them home and would we all love to see that more than anything? Absolutely. Is it realistic, given not simply the fight we started there eight years ago -- the fight we had every right to start -- but the way we abandoned Afghanistan 25 years ago, silently intervening in that country's war against the Soviets then leaving it to pick up the pieces on its own in the aftermath? No, it isn't. It's common knowledge by this point that we helped to create Osama bin Laden and the Taliban through our arming of Afghanistan's mujahadeen in their holy war against the Soviet invaders. If you still subscribe to what Colin Powell once cynically touted as the "Pottery Barn" rule of nation building -- "You break it, you bought it" -- then Afghanistan has been our war for almost three decades.
And that's something the conflict-addicted jerk-offs in the media need to remember before they giddily jump on what we're already seeing is a rapidly advancing meme in the wake of tonight's address by Obama: that with this escalation, Afghanistan is no longer Bush's war but "Obama's War."
That's horseshit. It was never really Bush's war, and it certainly isn't Obama's war; it's America's war. The Reagan administration was at one time as knee-deep in the impenetrable caves and valleys of Afghanistan as the Soviets were -- the difference being that the U.S. wasn't on the ground attempting to conquer the Afghans -- and because of its negligence post-Russian invasion, our tenuous erstwhile allies evolved to become our greatest threat in the Middle East and Asia, if not on the entire planet. Our decision to attack Afghanistan and attempt to drive out the enemies that we'd ironically created was the right one -- especially after 9/11. The eventual result of this conflict likely won't be a perfectly stable state, and it damn sure won't be one that's free of corruption, not with the Karzai government in charge. But if the Taliban really were allowed to regain a measure of legitimate control within the Afghan borders -- particularly with Pakistan being the bubbling cauldron of crazy that it is -- then we'd have spent the past eight years there for almost nothing.
As painful as it is to accept and as much as it seems antithetical to what many believe they were promised during the campaign, Obama knows this. He made a tough choice -- the least terrible one from a series of options that were all terrible in some form.
Let's just pray we really can push forward and get out with as few lives lost as possible.
Although that may be the naivest hope of all.