In anticipation of President Obama's speech tonight, I think the time is right for me to address this issue.
Previously I'd been a somewhat reluctant supporter of wanting our country to focus on Afghanistan. I thought Bush's handling of the conflict was a mess from the very beginning, when our military had Bin Laden cornered in Tora Bora, but decided it was diplomatically advantageous to have the Pakistani army capture him. Of course, we never counted on the sheer ineptitude or possible enemy collusion that some in their army apparently displayed, and as a result we lost our first, and in retrospect, very best chance of capturing Bin Laden.
Then, when Bush manufactured a reason to go to war in Iraq, he took the focus off Afghanistan and pulled a large number of troops out to fight Saddam's army. In the intervening years, nearly all the positive results we've made there, both in the military and civilian sense, has slowly eroded.
The parallels to our nation's disastrous involvement in Vietnam are resonating strongly right now. I can't help but feel that we've already lost the ability to "win" in Afghanistan. We've missed our chance, and after eight long years of constant war with the US, not to mention a previous ten years fighting the Soviets, has shaped their county into something that will never be truly conquered. The likelihood of "winning" is basically gone, and now we should simply be looking at how to get out in as painless a way as possible.
So the prospect of listening to the President tell us that we're sending 35,000 more troops there effective immediately, and we'll be there at least another three years, is making me wonder if we'll EVER get out of there.
This isn't why I voted for you, Mr. President.
Keith Olbermann's Special Comment on Afghanistan, from Monday night: