Recent pessimism about Afghanistan is overwrought. The truth is that despite some formidable obstacles and challenges, the United States can still win in Afghanistan. But victory will not be easy; nor will it come quickly. And the Obama administration will have to abandon its timeline for withdrawal while working more effectively on the diplomatic front.
The brouhaha over General McChrystal has raised concerns about “civilian control of the media,” but these concerns are misplaced. Civilian control is so deeply engrained in our military culture that no one need worry it’ll be overturned or ignored. A more legitimate concern is this: that the media feeding frenzy over McChrystal will cause the military to retreat from the public square and become more intellectually isolated.
Obama campaigned as a leader who believes in the power of words. However, his presidency has been notable for its lack of stirring and memorable presidential rhetoric. The reason for this is simple: Unlike say, Ronald Reagan, Obama has no real sense of America’s manifest destiny. He fails to understand or appreciate American history. And so his rhetoric is weak and subpar: sound and tedium signifying nothing.
George Will argues that Afghanistan is an unwinnable war. George Will is wrong. Afghanistan is eminently winnable, but only if the Obama administration abandons its timeline for withdrawal and begins to better engage politically with President Hamid Karzai’s Afghan government. Moreover, contra Will, victory in Afghanistan will require a sustained counterinsurgency strategy that runs well beyond July 2011.
The Left has a long and sordid history of rewriting historical narratives in order to promote its radical agenda. The Left’s aim: to constrain and neuter America. Thus, before conservatives can truly win politically, they first must recover America’s past. For as George Orwell explained, “He who controls the past controls the future.”
Instead of joining the Left’s defense cut bandwagon, conservatives should be calling for billions more in defense spending to modernize the military. Our troops have been asked to do too much for too long with antiquated gear and equipment.
On this, its 235th anniversary, the U.S. Army is bearing the brunt of the burden for two wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan. Twenty-first-century conflicts, moreover, are increasingly land-based and ground-intensive. Yet, Washington actually is cutting the Army’s budget.
Bill Kristol, Max Boot and other prominent conservatives are worried that President Obama’s weak rhetorical leadership and insistence on a timeline for military operations is undermining the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan. They’re right. But where have they been for the past six or seven months?
FrumForum’s Ken Silber would like conservatives to refrain from using martial rhetoric to describe and articulate domestic political disputes. The use of such rhetoric, Silber argues, is politically counterproductive. But in fact, martial rhetoric helps to inspire conservative activists to partake in the arduous grassroots political work that is required to win political and legislative battles.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City provided a touching tribute to U.S. military personnel during church services on Memorial Day weekend. Let us follow St. Patrick’s lead by honoring our fellow Americans who have gone into harm’s way to protect and defend us, and who continue to answer the call to duty. They are truly our nation’s best; and we do not understand or appreciate them enough.