Was I too harsh? It behooves me, I think, to note that the way in which Obama facilitated this military dispatch was pitch-perfect: classy, presidential, resolute. It also behooves me to note that many things can happen in war and politics and that if Petraeus is seen to manifestly fail in Afghanistan - and retrospectively to have failed to leave Iraq in one piece as well - then things might shift dramatically. One reader offers this meep-meep hypothesis:
Maybe the McChrystal fiasco was a gift to Obama. He installs Petraeus, blunts GOP National Security attacks during the midterms, then in a "Nixon to China" moment in 2011, announces that Petraeus -- God of the military -- believes we've done all we can do, that Karzai's corrupt government has to stand or fall on its own and switches the strategy to Biden's -- drone and special ops attacks on terrorists, leaving nation-building to the Afghans. That policy will have much more credibility if it comes with Petraeus' imprimatur than it would have with McChrystal's.
Well, we can hope. And look, I do not want to sound churlish. There were no good options in Afghanistan. I believe, as I believed in Iraq, that speedy withdrawal was the better option than surging and staying to save face. But I am not omniscient. I did not foresee the drop in violence in Iraq - although I did foresee the failure of the surge to achieve political reconciliation. From the beginning of Obama's massive gamble in Afghanistan, I have hoped for the best and would still love to be proven wrong. But I also have to give my best judgment now. That judgment is that this is a disaster waiting to unfold. And that sending young men into battle when the plan is this cockamamie is morally dubious in the extreme.