Why The Neutralist? The term Isolationist implies a narrow Fortress America outlook and is used as an epithet. The term Neutralist does not indicate someone hiding out from the world. No one calls the Swiss isolationists. The Wilsonian world view is old, tired and wrong. Our interventions have been less and less successful and now the failure can no longer be covered up.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Not Just Iraq

Los Angeles Times reports that we are losing in Afghanistan. Of course they are highlighting the obvious, but I guess that has to be done over and over again as few of us get it the first time. I would not wish to repeat what the Times is saying. Let's focus on another aspect of the Afghan war. It was a fool's errand from the beginning.

Remember the heady days after 911. Well, I do, but how clearly? Good question. I'm having more and more senior moments all the time. I remember the general tone being, "We gotta get those bastards." So we started bombing Afghanistan and cooperating with the Northern Alliance, a group of freedom loving patriots who quoted from the collected works of Bill Bennett. With our air support, they turned the flank. We sent troops in and chased the remnants of the Taliban out and installed a government and freed women and all that. Noble stuff.

It was all a waste. All of it. We did not get the self confessed mastermind of every bad thing that has happened to us. That evil Taliban is back. What people forget is that the Taliban was not defeated. They retired in good order. Certainly good enough order that they were able to regroup and return to battle. Not only that it looks like Round 15 of a 15 rounder and what looked in the early rounds like a mismatch with that big lanky guy from the West landing a few roundhouse rights has changed. That cagey boy from the East got on his bicycle and just circled around, landing a jab here and there, staying out of reach, while wearing the big guy down. In the final round, the betting has shifted, big time. This is how the Afghan Kid has won all his fights, seemingly a pushover in the early going then coming back later on. And, he has won all his fights (maybe the contretemps with Big Alex can be called a draw, but that's about it).

But of course, this time it was going to be different. Right. Anyone who thought the GIs giving out nylon stockings and chocolate thing was going to work this time was nuts. Actually, all that ranting about "United we stand" was little more than the raging of a drunk in a bar. Trust me, it's been a long time, but it's a subject I know something about.

So, I can hear no one say, though they might, what would have been your great plan, smart guy. Well that's the thing. I have no illusions about my genius, but all too many of my country's leaders do. If, by some bizzare circumstance, I had been invited I would have laid out the options thus, "Scenario one, we can invade that country and try to capture bin Laden. To do it right so that he can never come back if he escapes, it will take hundreds of thousands of troops and several decades to change the culture and more likely our culture will change. Oh, we will probably leave without actually effecting the desired change. Scenario two, I would withdraw all our troops from overseas and secure our borders.

So by now, if you are awake, you are saying, does this guy want to just give the terrorists a pass? No, I want to win. This is hardly seems what our foreign policy wonks want, as even still they appear to be hell bent in desiring to take us into one labyrinth after another.

The most intelligent strategy I have ever heard was best explained in a letter to the Antiwar.com letters page years ago. It was posted by George D. of the UK, "the terrorists could have been hunted one-by-one by having a special task force that deals with it, like Israel did in hunting the Nazi war criminals, without going to war with the country that provided shelter for them." Of course such a policy would need focus over a long term and could not be a TV war and no party out of power would have been able to resist accusing the administration of doing nothing.

No, the Afghan thing will continue on until the inevitable and like the Brits and Russians, we shall leave, maybe with some face saving fig leaf, but we shall leave.

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