It's too bad George Will didn't make his arguments during the Bush years. He probably would have been denounced as a traitor. Better late than never, I guess. But some of us like, myself having been calling for a pullout from Iraq and Afghanistan for years.
George F. Will, the elite conservative commentator, will call in his next column for U.S. ground troops to leave Afghanistan, according to publishing sources.
“[F]orces should be substantially reduced to serve a comprehensively revised policy: America should do only what can be done from offshore, using intelligence, drones, cruise missiles, airstrikes and small, potent special forces units, concentrating on the porous 1,500-mile border with Pakistan, a nation that actually matters,” Will writes in the column, scheduled for publication later this week.
President Obama ordered a total of 21,000 more U.S. troops into Afghanistan in February and March, and casualties have mounted as the forces began confronting the Taliban more aggressively. August saw the highest monthly death toll for the U.S. since the invasion in 2001, the second record month in a row.
Will’s prescription – in which he urges Obama to remember Bismarck’s decision to halt German forces short of Paris in 1870 - seems certain to split Republicans. He is a favorite of fiscal conservatives. The more hawkish right can be expected to attack his conclusion as foolhardy, short-sighted and naïve, potentially making the U.S. more vulnerable to terrorist attack.
Will's declaration comes at a time when serious questions are being raised about how to sustain a costly war against an intractable enemy.
As public support wanes, the Obama administration feels it needs to deliver speedy progress in Afghanistan so that it can gain time and backing for its long-term military strategy.
Reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan, and Washington - The Obama administration is racing to demonstrate visible headway in the faltering war in Afghanistan, convinced it has only until next summer to slow a hemorrhage in U.S. support and win more time for the military and diplomatic strategy it hopes can rescue the 8-year-old effort.
But the challenge in Afghanistan is becoming more difficult in the face of gains by the Taliban, rising U.S. casualties, a weak Afghan government widely viewed as corrupt, and a sense among U.S. commanders that they must start the military effort largely from scratch nearly eight years after it began.
A turnaround is crucial because military strategists believe they will not be able to get the additional troops they feel they need in coming months if they fail to show that their new approach is working, U.S. officials and advisors say.
There are even some prominent Democratic Senators calling for withdrawal from Afghanistan:
Scores of national security strategists have implored that the U.S. cannot withdraw from Afghanistan anytime soon (if ever) because if Afghanistan falls into the hands of the Taliban it would lead to the further destabilization of Pakistan; and if Pakistan is destabilized, nukes would fall into the hands of al-Qaeda. However, I agree with Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold that reality on the ground has proven the indirect what-if postulates of foreign policy clairvoyants wrong, and it is time for the United States to begin a phased withdrawal.