October 31, 2004

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER WRITES on “Kerry’s Afghan Amnesia:”

Within days of Sept. 11, the clueless airhead president that inhabits Michael Moore’s films and Tina Brown’s dinner parties had done this: forced Pakistan into alliance with us, isolated the Taliban, secured military cooperation from Afghanistan’s northern neighbors, and authorized a radical war plan involving just a handful of Americans on the ground, using high technology and local militias to utterly rout the Taliban.

President Bush put in place a military campaign that did in two months what everyone had said was impossible: defeat an entrenched, fanatical, ruthless regime in a territory that had forced the great British and Soviet empires into ignominious retreat. Bush followed that by creating in less than three years a fledgling pro-American democracy in a land that had no history of democratic culture and was just emerging from 25 years of civil war.

This is all barely remembered and barely noted. Most amazing of all, John Kerry has managed to transform our Afghan venture into a failure — a botched operation in which Bush let Osama bin Laden get away because he “outsourced” bin Laden’s capture to “warlords” in the battle of Tora Bora.

Outsourced? The entire Afghan war was outsourced. How does Kerry think we won it? How did Mazar-e Sharif, Kabul and Kandahar fall? Stormed by thousands of American GIs? They fell to the “warlords” we had enlisted, supported and directed. It was their militias that overran the Taliban.

“Outsourcing” is a demagogue’s way of saying “using allies.” (Isn’t Kerry’s Iraq solution to “outsource” the problem to the “allies” and the United Nations?) . . . .

Once again, the senator’s position has evolved, to borrow the New York Times’ delicate term for Kerry’s many about-faces.

This election comes down to a choice between one man’s evolution and the other man’s resolution. With his endlessly repeated Tora Bora charges, Kerry has made Afghanistan a major campaign issue. So be it. Whom do you want as president? The man who conceived the Afghan campaign, carried it through without flinching when it was being called a “quagmire” during its second week and has seen it through to Afghanistan’s transition to democracy? Or the retroactive genius, who always knows what needs to be done after it has already happened — who would have done “everything” differently in Iraq, yet in Afghanistan would have replicated Bush’s every correct, courageous, radical and risky decision — except one. Which, of course, he would have done differently. He says. Now.

Ouch.