A Libertarian Scream

Radley Balko says we played right into bin Laden's hands:

He wanted a holy war. We gave him two. We’ve compromised our values, rolled back civil liberties, and let our politicians generally scare the crap out of us whenever they want new powers. Oh, and we’ve let the bastard live to gloat about it all. [...] And our war in Afghanistan is looking more and more like the Soviet war bin Laden was hoping to emulate. We’re now well into our ninth year in Afghanistan. The Soviets pulled out after 10. With Obama’s surge, we’ll be close to 100,000 U.S. troops in the country next year. That’s about the number the Soviets had deployed at the height of their own war. About the only difference between the two wars is that technology has shifted more of our war casualties from the killed column to the maimed. I guess that’s something.

Some kind of over-reaction was in many ways understandable (although I should have kept my wits about me). But to sustain the over-reaction, to double-down on it, for years after it was obvious we had walked bang into a trap: this is not so understandable.

But look: Obama is pledged to remove most troops from Iraq in the next two years and to begin to remove most of the surge troops from Afghanistan in 2011. If you think of surging as a form of face-saving before extricating ourselves, then the prospects are not so bleak. But the acid moment will be when and if Iraq and Afghanistan implode after US withdrawal. The key then will be to keep out.