Zippidy Doo Da

I'm not stupid, I'm from Texas!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

BartCop has Gene Lyons' latest..

"Reportedly, Gen. Petraeus cautioned Obama to think of the current Afghan government as essentially "a crime syndicate." That is, a hierarchical, semi-conspiratorial organization based on tribal and familial loyalties rather than abstract ideals of patriotism or public service -- basically the only way Afghan society has ever run, and realistically the only way it's going to function after Americans leave.

"Something else Obama's team confronted was the impossibility of military victory. "Mr. Gates and others," the Times reported, "talked about the limits of the American ability to actually defeat the Taliban; they were an indigenous force in Afghan society, part of the political fabric." One may as well talk of driving Baptists out of Texas.

"That said, anybody who imagined that this president -- any American president -- was going to abruptly pull out of a NATO action in Afghanistan, or to negotiate from a position of weakness, potentially leading to the spectacle of ragtag Taliban militiamen overrunning Kabul in beat-up Japanese pickup trucks and threatening a consequent reestablishment of al-Qaida bases there, simply isn't dealing with political reality, Afghan or American.

"The success of Obama's plan further hinges on Pakistan's ability to confront jihadist elements on its side of the border. Essentially, the president is like a poker player trying to draw to an inside straight, gambling that his troop buildup can buy enough time to bribe Taliban fighters motivated by dislike of foreign invaders more than jihad into changing sides, another Afghan tradition.

"It's definitely a long shot. The hopeful part of Obama's policy, however, resides precisely in the calculated ambiguity of the July 2011 date.

"Our troop commitment in Afghanistan cannot be open-ended," the president said in his televised speech, "because the nation that I am most interested in building is our own."

"So when was the last time a president spoke in the language of realism, acknowledging limits to American power in remote parts of the world, and to America's ability to pay for endless wars of marginal strategic importance?

"It's an important first step. Will there be another?"

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