Can the United States win the war in Afghanistan? The antiwar left has long held the war is unwinnable. Now some conservatives are arguing that President Obama’s weakness and indecision forecast American failure–and that, if we’re going to fail, we should just get out now.
We would be the last to defend Obama’s indefensible dithering. But the war in Afghanistan remains both winnable and worth winning–even with Obama as president. And no form of withdrawal or defeat is consistent with safeguarding key American interests in a volatile and dangerous region of the world.
President Obama’s apparent reluctance to pursue the fight does not inspire confidence. But he did send General Stanley McChrystal to take command, along with 21,000 additional troops. Despite efforts by political operatives around the president to push him toward withdrawal now, the president may yet do the right thing–soon, please!–and provide General McChrystal with the forces he needs to pursue decisive operations in 2010. And the president might put real effort into explaining his decision and the war’s importance to the American people. In any case, to the extent the administration doesn’t seem sufficiently stalwart or willing to provide those in the field the resources they need, a loyal opposition should press the administration to do the right thing, rather than relieving it of its responsibilities by preemptively deciding it won’t.