Ed Driscoll

Five Easy Pieces

Rich Lowry runs down the The Obama administration’s five top excuses for backing off the Afghan war. Number Five? But of course!

Bush messed up the war beyond repair. You can hear the hint of this excuse/reason in this comment from an administration official: “In eight months, it is impossible to reverse eight years of neglect.” Counter-factuals are great. What if Bush had adopted a true counter-insurgency/population-protection strategy in Iraq sooner, so we could have both stabilized Iraq and turned to Afghanistan more quickly? But that’s the stuff of punditry. Obama is commander-in-chief now and his hand-picked general is telling him a properly resourced war can succeed. Pointing fingers at Bush is an evasion.

And note this item, from the Weekly Standard’s Michael Goldfarb, who spots Carl Levin (D-MI) “For A Counterinsurgency Strategy Before He Was Against It”:

Time-the_right_warCarl Levin has been on the floor of the Senate this afternoon, reiterating his case against sending the additional combat troops to Afghanistan that General McChrystal says are needed to execute a properly-resourced counterinsurgency strategy. Instead, Levin argues, the U.S. should focus narrowly on building up the Afghan National Security Forces.

Bolstering his case, Levin has repeatedly cited a letter he sent to the president earlier this year urging an immediate expansion of the Afghan army and police — which Levin proudly boasts was signed by a bipartisan majority of members of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

There’s one major problem with Levin’s position, however, which no one yet seems to have realized. Namely, he and his staff apparently forgot to reread the first paragraph of that famous letter to the President he keeps waving around — a copy of which THE WEEKLY STANDARD has got hold of. It reads:

“We support your decision to set a new course for U.S. policy in Afghanistan. We agree that the United States has a vital national interest in ensuring that Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven from which al Qaeda can plot attacks against our homeland, and that achieving this objective requires that we put in place a well-resourced, comprehensive counterinsurgency strategy.”

Whoops.

Perhaps Carl Levin is taking a page from the John Kerry school of foreign policy: he was for “a well-resourced comprehensive counterinsurgency strategy,” before he was against it.

For it before they were against it does seem to be the left’s theme of the decade, huh?

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Incidentally, kudos to President Obama for meeting with General Stanley McChrystal for about 25 minutes Friday morning in Copenhagen, “after McChrystal flew to Denmark from London to meet with the commander-in-chief”, in between the rest of Mr. Obama’s photo-ops, Stephen Hayes writes. Hey, it’s not easy being The Biggest Celebrity In The World.

Speaking of which, has anybody run the numbers to see if this meeting lasted longer than President Obama’s combined face time with David Letterman?

Related: “Boston Globe’s View on Afghanistan Depends on Who’s President.”