George Will: Hey, let’s pull out of Afghanistan

posted at 7:48 pm on August 31, 2009 by Allahpundit

Won’t matter a whit to the conservative base, which is The One’s only reliable constituency on Afghanistan, but insofar as it gives the media an irresistible peg on which to hang the withdrawal meme — “even George Will says…” — it’s big news.

“[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…

The columnist’s startling recommendation surfaced on the same day that Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, sent an assessment up his chain of command recommending what he called “a revised implementation strategy.” In a statement, McChrystal also called for “commitment and resolve, and increased unity of effort.”

In the column, Will warns that any nation-building strategy could be impossible to execute given the Taliban’s ability to seemingly disappear into the rugged mountain terrain and the lack of economic development in the war-plagued nation.

I can’t find the column anywhere but The Corner is all over it, starting with a post by Fred Kagan describing Will’s various factual errors (and his sneering at the British contribution, which involved six dead in one day earlier this summer, as “risible”) and concluding with this excellent quick take by Lowry about Will’s grand strategic mistake. This sounds like the old Baker/Hamilton plan for Iraq by another name, i.e. redeploy to get the troops safely out of harm’s way and then use precision strikes to take out terrorists while the country falls to pieces. I never understood how that was supposed to work with Iraq — how would you get the intel for the strikes? what if some areas held by jihadists are too dangerous to penetrate? what about the morality of leaving civilians at the mercy of armed fascists? — but I really don’t understand it in the Afghan context. The whole point of pressuring Pakistan into getting aggressive with the Taliban on their side of the border is to leave Al Qaeda squeezed in the middle; if you pull U.S. troops out of Afghanistan, you give them a place to run to — a mirror image of what happened in 2001 when Osama and company escaped to Waziristan. Anthony Cordesman, who’s always been a straight shooter in his assessments of Iraq, warns today in WaPo that unless we put some more boots on the ground to clear and hold territory, the country’s finished and we’ll face “an enduring regional mess and sanctuary for extremism” going forward. I’m curious to read Will’s theory for why that won’t happen if we don’t take his advice.

Either way, The One seems serious about not pulling out — yet. Why, his mouthpiece is even using verboten, cowboy, Bush-era terminology!


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If we weren’t stupidly handing out visas to Muslims like they were candy, Afghanistan wouldn’t be nearly as big of an issue, at least as far as our own security is concerned. You’re too busy seeing third-rate symptoms when the actual disease remains an untreated, festering wound.

2Brave2Bscared on September 1, 2009 at 1:27 PM

Depends on how much terrorism you’re willing to tolerate, I suppose. They could do something on the scale of the 1996 Olympic bombing every week.

Chris_Balsz on September 1, 2009 at 3:27 PM

To put matters in perspective, on December 7, 1941, a nation of 80 million people killed 3000 Americans on American soil and crippled the core of our Pacific fleet; they then rolled up most of our Far East commands, destroyed an American Army, and shoved our flag back 4000 miles.

The United States at that time had only 120 million people and an economy of $2.026T (2008 dollars). We mobilized 3 million troops, 50% of our economy, and by 1945 were prepared to land several million troops in Japan, fight for another 3 more years, and suffer a projected 1,000,000 casualties subduing the Home Islands before atom bombing of Japanese cities broke their suicidal rage.

Today, 8 years after a few million terrorists and fellow travelers killed 3000 Americans on American soil, the smart argument is that a nation of 305 million and an economy of $13T cannot afford to put more than 125,000 troops into Central Asia against an enemy with no air force, no armor, no heavy artillery, because our military is already exhausted by a war that killed 6000 and wounded 40,000. We must search for ways to wait them out and fight only when we feel like it. Sitzkrieg shall preserve our national security.

What rot.

Chris_Balsz on September 1, 2009 at 3:43 PM

Conservatism does not seek regime change. Conservatism does not seek preventive strikes. Conservatism views war as the very last resort.

Neo-Conservatism is the opposite of that. Most here are Neo-Conservatives not Conservatives. George Will is a Conservative not a Neo-Conservative.

Decider on September 1, 2009 at 3:14 PM

I would agree that most “mainstream” conservatives are indeed neoconservatives. Though I would challenge you a bit on your definition of such.

George Will is not a neoconservative, on that I will agree. But that doesn’t make him a conservative. Unless of course you think supporting amnesty for illegal aliens is a conservative position.

2Brave2Bscared on September 1, 2009 at 3:48 PM

Depends on how much terrorism you’re willing to tolerate, I suppose. They could do something on the scale of the 1996 Olympic bombing every week.

Chris_Balsz on September 1, 2009 at 3:27 PM

I’m not sure I follow your point.

2Brave2Bscared on September 1, 2009 at 3:54 PM

George Will is one of those guys appointed by the Left as a Conservative.

Dr. ZhivBlago on September 1, 2009 at 4:15 PM

George Will is one of those guys appointed by the Left as a Conservative.

Dr. ZhivBlago on September 1, 2009 at 4:15 PM

Yep. Along with Bush, Krauthammer, Barnes, Kristol, Frum, and a host of many other phonies.

2Brave2Bscared on September 1, 2009 at 4:23 PM

To quote a great leader:

“Don’t go wobbly on me, George.”

jnelchef on September 1, 2009 at 4:27 PM

If we can pull out of Afghanstan, then why not Detroit? Neither offer hope.

MichiganMatt on September 1, 2009 at 4:45 PM

George Will is not a neoconservative, on that I will agree. But that doesn’t make him a conservative. Unless of course you think supporting amnesty for illegal aliens is a conservative position.

2Brave2Bscared on September 1, 2009 at 3:48 PM

Ronald Reagan was a Conservative. Ronald Reagan supported amnesty. There was this little thing called the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.

http://www.reagan.utexas.edu/archives/speeches/1986/110686b.htm

Decider on September 1, 2009 at 5:05 PM

Decider on September 1, 2009 at 5:05 PM

And Reagan was dead wrong. There’s also a huge difference between pardoning a few million and pardoning upwards of 20 million. No way would Reagan have been in favor of the 2006 amnesty act, as George Will was, especially given the lesson he learned in 1986.

Reagan stupidly fell for the Democrats game that amnesty would lead to security. That proved to be utterly false. Instead of learning from this, Will wanted to do it all over again, on a grand scale. He wanted us to surrender to our mostly Hispanic law-breaking invaders. The man’s a liberal, just like McCain and just like Bush.

2Brave2Bscared on September 1, 2009 at 5:25 PM

Comment pages: 1 2 3