Afghanistan War a Mistake?

Another of our country’s children, giving his life for our freedom from terrorism. God bless you, soldier, thank you for your ultimate sacrifice. You will never be forgotten.” — From the comments at the Orange County Register.

The photo shows U.S. Marine Michael Chang grieving at the memorial for his best friend, Army Sgt. Daniel Lim. The Orange County Register has the front-page story and slideshow, “O.C. soldier’s love for family and friends ran deep.” A picture of Chang is also on the front-page of the hardcopy edition of today’s Wall Street Journal. Looking at the images from the Sgt. Lim ceremonies, can we really believe the war was a mistake? Have the lives of those who’ve sacrificed been for naught? I don’t believe so. But at almost 9 years, the war in Afghanistan may be stretching the limits of America’s patience.


The partisan political splits have been longstanding. The Democratic Party used the war for cheap political purposes during the Bush administration. Democrats argued that America was fighting the wrong war in Iraq, that Afghanistan was the “good war” in the post-9/11 era. But as soon as it looked like the U.S. has secured a lasting stability — if not all-out victory — in Iraq, the Democrats’ political calculus turned to antiwar mobilization against the Afghanistan deployment. Sober analysts are correct to contrast and justify the commitment of U.S. resources with the war aims in Afghanistan. They’ve suggested that U.S. goals have not always been well-defined and that nation-building seems supported more by U.S. contingents on the ground than the Afghan political officials being propped up by American power. Then you have the neo-communist leftists, who have two political cards against the modern capitalist system: “racism” and “neo-imperialism.” Some of these folks have in fact given direct support to our enemies, treasonous behavior that sadly reaches to the Obama administration itself. Not far behind the left are the “realist” paleocons, who for my money are not much better than the neo-communists in their wild conspiracies of alleged U.S. neo-colonial adventures. Such talk ultimately aids and abets our enemies. It places such a narrow desideratum on our interests that basically the U.S. would never intervene abroad unless a couple of our largest cities were incinerated by nuclear mushroom clouds.

In any case, I’m prompted to this discussion by today’s front-page report at USA Today, “Poll: Waning Support for Obama On Wars,” and more specifically, the Gallup Poll behind it, “In U.S., New High of 43% Call Afghanistan War a ‘Mistake’.” Ed Morrissey focuses on the political angle, and the likihood the USA Today buried the lede on Obama’s collapsing numbers. That’s important, although it’s the Gallup entry that’s more interesting to me, since the poll cites WikiLeaks as a reason for the declining support:

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After the Internet publication of tens of thousands of leaked classified documents on the war in Afghanistan, 43% of Americans now say the United States made a mistake in sending troops there, up slightly from just before the release (38%). While Americans are still more likely to support than oppose the war, the percentage who say it was a mistake to get involved is at a new high ….

The 43% of Americans calling the decision to send U.S. military forces into Afghanistan a mistake marks the high point in the nearly nine-year war, although a slight majority continue to support the decision. Public support persists even though for most of the last several years Americans have generally thought the war has been going badly for the United States, and many more currently disapprove than approve of President Obama’s handling of the situation.

Thus, the leaking of the documents may not be providing new information to the general public about the progress of the war. And given Americans’ subdued attention to the story, it’s also not clear that Americans are highly familiar with what information those documents reveal.

But the documents do remind Americans of the challenges the United States is facing in Afghanistan, and they may have caused an increasing number to question whether the efforts there are worth it. Last week, Congress approved President Obama’s request for continued funding of the war, though by a narrower margin than last year.

That sounds like a decent assessment. I’d simply add that most MSM outlets are in the tank for WikiLeaks, and this despite the fact that Julian Assange is almost certainly running a criminal enterprise. I think at this point the U.S. is now to a point of winding down the Bush-era wars. President Obama has never embraced them as his own. Of course he campaigned vociferously against Iraq in 2007-08 and is today claiming credit for victory there; and on Afghanistan he’s been at most lukewarm in his support, while some of his decision-making has in fact put U.S. troops in greater danger. But there’s more to the WikiLeaks story than meets the eye. American interests remain great in Afghanistan. Despite the increasing drumbeats for a precipitous withdrawal, AfPAK will remain a top global security threat for years to come. We’d be foolish to cut and run. On that score, I’ll give the last word to Thomas Joscelyn at Weekly Standard. See, “The Taliban’s Savagery: The Documents Released by WikiLeaks Say Much About the Evil of Our Enemies“:

When WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange announced the massive leak of more than 90,000 classified documents, he claimed that he was exposing “thousands” of possible American war crimes. The documents show nothing of the sort. Some of the documents do detail the brutality of war, and the unsurprising fact that mistakes are made. Assange’s anti-American myopia prevented him from seeing what the documents really demonstrate: American-led forces face an especially savage enemy.

Of course, we didn’t need the WikiLeaks cache of documents to tell us this. There is plenty of evidence for the whole world to see. Still, the documents demonstrate just how pervasive the Taliban’s brutality is in this fight. The Taliban and its jihadist allies have an unparalleled lust for blood, beheading their enemies (both real and imagined) on a regular basis. It is difficult to think of a more savage act.

Here are just some examples, chosen from many, found in the documents released by WikiLeaks ….


Cross-posted from American Power.

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