Nov 29, 2009
365 Days, Mr. President
One year from today, the United States will match the Soviet Union in the number of days it sacrificed its young in Afghanistan. The Soviets pulled out after a long and bloody nine years, one month and 23 days.
The next day, November 30, 2010 (presuming we are still there!), we'll hold the modern record.
The anniversary date comes as President Obama is set to disclose his plan to succeed in, and then depart from, Afghanistan.
Mr. Obama is a thoughful man, not given to impulse "gut" decisions, so unlike his predecessor. The slowness of his decision about Afghanistan has been fodder (like everything else) for GOP critique, but I would rather he truly give this, especially this, as much consideration as he feels necessary.
The President will address the country from West Point Tuesday night.
I'm not sure, and really nobody can be, whether success is possible. Do we define victory as helping to create a country where human rights are respected, a place where the people have the power to define their futures? Or will it be enough for them to just stop providing shelter for anti-American terrorists? And if the fighting in Afghanistan is really just a proxy war between India and Pakistan, can we convince them to send their own young people there to die?
The Soviet goal was to defeat the Islamist Mujahedeen Resistance and maintain a Marxist (i.e., friendly to them) state. That's why our CIA was helping the "rebels".
Other than increasing those sobering numbers, what difference will another year make?
[PLUS: Editorial against sending more troops.]