Topic: Decline of the West
That column of smoke you see rising in the distance marks the crash sight of what passed for Barack Obama’s Afghanistan policy. The fiasco in which he has embroiled the United States was foreordained from the day he accompanied the Afghanistan troop surge with a politically calibrated “exit strategy.” Prepare for bad news when a politician with a war on his hands starts bloviating about his “exit strategy”: It’s a euphemistic way of conceding defeat.
As is usual with our philosopher-president, Obama thought he could have it both ways: look tough by surging troops into the battle zone; look touchy-feely by pledging to get out by a date certain. This merely ensured (1) that the hardships and sacrifices of the troops deployed would be in vain, (2) that our ally, the government of Afghanistan, knowing that we’d soon be gone while the Taliban remained, would begin to hedge its bets and (3) that the Taliban would have no incentive to negotiate. Today, to the surprise of no one except Obama and the clueless dolts who mismanage foreign policy on his behalf, (1) the Taliban broke off talks with the US and (2) the government of Afghanistan demanded an acceleration of the US/NATO withdrawal. “If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well it were done quickly.”
Why, indeed, should the Taliban negotiate when Afghanistan will soon be theirs for the taking? And why should the government of Afghanistan trust the Obama Administration, with the precipitous abandonment of Iraq so green in memory? No one in the Obama Administration seems to have raised these obvious questions. Perhaps they trusted in Barry’s godlike powers of persuasion. Or something.
Two years ago, there were good arguments both for prosecuting the war in Afghanistan with the aim of scoring a clear-cut success, or of cutting our losses and pulling out. Obama couldn’t see this. Instead he tried to split the difference. Result: a humiliating debacle that will alarm our allies and embolden our enemies. How, for example, can Israel reasonably be expected to trust the promises of a feckless, light-minded US president?
“Let them hate as long as they fear” is a key principle of foreign policy—and “Can’t we all just get along?” is no substitute.