A fellow journalist wrote in recently and told me he, too, believed that COIN-driven nation-building in Afghanistan was a futile strategy but asked how I thought we could pull out without withdrawal becoming a Vietnam-style disaster?
I wrote back and said:
In a nutshell, there is no Good way to stay under current conditions and there's no Good way to get out under current conditions -- at least so long as we fail (in spades under Obama) to face global jihad and declare and set policy accordingly. (I actually wrote a "speech" in two successive columns in 2006 for GWB to do exactly that and leave Iraq due to the incompatibility of our strategic and philosophical imperatives. ) If we wait for the perfect way out, we'll be there forever -- and that's no matter how many "courageous restraint" medals they hand out!
Meanwhile, the reality is that staying in A-stan already is each and every day a victory for the jihadis of the world (the Great Satan is squandering its power and best young men for NOTHING of lasting US value) just as leaving would be seen as victory for jihadis (as in the Great Satan can't stick it).
In sum, it's gonna stink either way.
Which is least awful in the long run? I think leaving is better than staying because at least we stop the squandering of blood and treasure, stop doing what I think thrills the world's jihadis (seeing us pinned down in perpetuity and increasingly adopting grovelling ways in that hearts & minds effort), and maybe begin to stop the multiculti fantasy, too (altho goodness knows under Obama and McChrystal the civilian aid side likely stays ramped up). It would be beneficial to give up on the "war" for hearts & minds as a reality check on the futility of such "wars." What I think people need to understand is how very hard we tried to do something with these peoples, but we always in the end bumped up against the cultural wall.
According to some mil sources, there are better-case scenarios for withdrawal including a massive show of goodbye force to destroy whatever and wherever should be destroyed. I agree with Gen. Paul Vallely that a "lily pad" strategy (which has never been tried as our key defense policy) is the way to go forward.
Meanwhile, with the military stuck and degrading in A-stan, the country feels weirdly defenseless, if you know what I mean. ...