While it is great fun and all to mock Willard Romney, the one war in which we are engaged formally has started to go very badly, and it's more than past time to admit that we've done all we can in Afghanistan and bring every American soldier in the theater home. Today.
In a sensible world, this would be a major campaign issue. The
president has risked an awful lot of his prestige on what essentially
was a "surge" strategy in Afghanistan, and that seems now seriously to
be coming apart. His opponent could make an issue of this, if he had not
surrounded himself on the foreign-policy front with every unemployed
dingbat who was sitting around playing Risk in the neocon hiring hall. I
suppose Romney could say the current outbreak of violence is due to the
president's having set a date for a (now largely speculative) U.S.
withdrawal, but that's a hard case to make while your crack
foreign-affairs staff is drooling from every molar for an another war,
this one with Iran. Let's stay in Afghanistan and blow Tehran to rubble! That'll work.
In any case, and domestic politics far to the side, there doesn't
seem to be a point to any of it anymore. Before even the latest
insurgent attack based on the anti-Islam video killed 14 this morning,
Taliban forces attacked a heavily defended U.S. base and got close
enough to film video of how close they came to overrunning the place.
NATO sent in an airstrike and managed to kill some women and children
who were gathering firewood. We are supposed to be training the Afghan
police and military, and then Americans or British soldiers go out on
patrol with the people they're supposed to be training, and those people
kill them. There's even a name for it now — blue-on-green killing, and
there have been 51 of them this year alone. Unsurprisingly, this results
in the cancellation of the joint patrols, and the entire raison d'etre for our being there at all evaporates on the spot. And said cancellation leads to this ominous quote from an American military source:
"We're to the point now where we can't trust these people," a senior military official said.
However justified you may be in saying this, and the American
military is pretty damned well justified, given the events of the past
few months, once you have senior military men talking about your
putative allies as "these people" whom you "can't trust," that's pretty
much the ballgame right there. If we are not very careful, that quote
can be the first step down a very dark road that can lead, at best, to a
de facto occupation for as long as we are there, or, at worst, to My Lai.
You can also argue that we're also there to "stabilize the region,"
but that assumes a) that the region is ever stable or, b) that it
necessarily wants to be or even knows what "stable" means. Yeah, good
luck with that.
We need to get out of Afghanistan NOW.