They are called the President’s “War Council”. Perhaps the more accurate name would be “Face Saving Council”.
As the President and his national security “Principles” meet in the White House to discuss how to move ahead with Afghanistan, the best question, the most fundamental question is not on that round table in the Situation Room: If we were starting fresh, what would we do if we were deciding how to send forces and IF.
Of course that’s not the case, any more than it is in Iraq, and arguably the Afghanistan invasion was more justified than the Iraq foolhardiness, which by the way, depleted the military resources that might have helped do the job in Afghanistan.
But for that reason, and more importantly a combination of negligence and distractions combined with incompetent miscalculations, here we are, too hopelessly entangled to merely cut the knot. Put another way, simply pulling out is not an option.
If we did, the same mortal enemies of the United States, Al Qaeda would simply return to their safe havens provided by the same insane Taliban who would quickly overrun the weak, corrupt, unpopular leaders who were no longer propped up by their naive benefactors from NATO.
These ruthless Taliban fanatics would then have free rein to resume brutalize their countrymen and worst of all their countryWOMEN.
Now that we’re there, it would be unconscionable to abandon Afghanistan and let these despicable thugs wreak their vengeance and once again enslave the country.
So forget about simply withdrawing. Even if the U-S could safely pull out of this quicksand, it would sap what little international credibility the nation has left as a reliable ally.
At the same time, all the other adversaries, like Iran, would be emboldened to pursue their fanatic fantasies and apocalyptic arsenals, secure if the belief that “The Great Satan” could not stop their pursuit of whatever hellish goals they had. And let’s not forget, Iran borders on Afghanistan. They can hurt us there a lot if they want.
To do so would also seriously rip the fabric of our nation that has already been tattered by the incompetent misadventurism of a previous administration that got us into this awful mess.
We’re left then not with a question of how we start anew, and whether we do but how to minimize the damage we’ll leave both to Afghanistan and the United States. And how to bring a small amount of comfort to those who have been killed and maimed, along with their families, who are desperate to believe that the huge price they paid will somehow, eventually pay off that it was just not wasted. Or worse.
The White House is very open about the fact that the key figures in the administration are split on the best way out. That’s a positive thing for two reasons: We don’t need any blindly loyal march by our leaders into what could be an even messier situation. And the candor in acknowledging the differences on this War Council is also good. The decisions that trapped us in this mess were shrouded in secrecy. We don’t need more of that, as we struggle to make the most of the situation, before we extricate ourselves.