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Terence Smith

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Two Good Columns

Posted: 06/10/11 12:31 PM ET

Two of the best columnists writing in America today have written excellent pieces in recent days that caught my eye. The first was by Tom Friedman in the NYT in the wake of Bibi Netanyahu's visit to Washington, the second is Eugene Robinson's piece in today's Washington Post on the futility of the war in Afghanistan.

Friedman's point was that the Israeli-Palestinian "peace process" is moribund because the respective leaders, Netanyahu and Abbas, are stuck in the past. Each is recycling tired old demands and preconditions that effectively stall any progress towards a solution. Totally true. Neither has had an original idea in years and both are playing to their respective constituencies. CYA politics, Mideast-version.

No wonder George Mitchell resigned as Obama's envoy. He had the patience to hammer at the Northern Ireland problem for six years until both sides agreed to the Good Friday Accord. But two years of beating his head against the Israeli-Palestinian intransigence was enough. No surprise.

Eugene Robinson's column today, "Declare Victory -- and Go," is an eloquent appeal to common sense. "What on earth are we doing?" in Afghanistan, he asks. "We have more than 100,000 troops in Afghanistan risking life and limb, at a cost of $10 billion a month, to pursue ill-defined goals whose achievement" can only barely be imagined.

"We wanted to depose the Taliban regime, and we did," he writes. "We wanted to install a new government that answers to its constituents at the polls, and we did. We wanted to smash al Qaeda's infrastructure of training camps and havens, and we did. We wanted to kill or capture Osama bin Laden, and we did."

"The threat from Afghanistan is gone," he concludes, "bring the troops home."

That is so clearly the right course of action that it is strange that the Obama Administration does not adopt it immediately.