|July 28, 2010|
|White House Reels from Pentagon Papers II|
|By Kevin McCauley|
|Anybody paying attention to the last nine years knows the Pentagon Papers II document dump is a scathing criticism of the Bush Administration’s Afghanistan folly. |
The leadership trio of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld launched its "War Against Terrorism" on the cheap and the U.S. military paid an awful price by trying to root out the Taliban with one hand tied behind its back. Bored with target-poor Afghanistan, Team Bush's focus quickly turned to Saddam Hussein and target-rich Iraq.
The White House and its right-wing echo machine concocted a massive PR campaign that set the stage for the bombing of Baghdad. The U.S. and its dwindling NATO alliance are now paying a heavy price for the previous White House's war of choice.
The WikiLeaks trove of documents has put the current White House in full damage-control mode. National Security Advisor General James Jones is upset that the White House learned from media reports that the New York Times, Guardian and Der Spiegel secretly had the 90K-plus reports for weeks, agreeing to post the material on the 'Net. Did Jones plan to add more material to the stockpile?
Kudos goes to WikiLeaks CEO Julian Assange for master-minding the greatest PR campaign for 2010 so far. He received wall-to-wall coverage for material that was pretty well-known.
Our Afghanistan policy is a flop. Obama's famed "surge" policy that may have paid dividends for Bush in Iraq is not cutting it in Stone Age Afghanistan, a country that fails to meet the bare definition of "nation." If political opposition to the Afghanistan conflict grows, WikiLeaks deserves much of the credit.
The president has promised to evaluate the surge strategy results in December. He "owns" Afghanistan.
An honest, but politically challenging move for Obama would be to admit that the U.S. has a very limited future in Afghanistan. The best strategy: "de-surge the surge" and bring home the vast bulk of troops. America has better use of its military and treasure than waging an endless war against a faceless enemy.
The next conflict looms. Elisabeth Bumiller, in yesterday’s New York Times, wrote that the U.S. has been at war for 20 percent of its 230-year history. "Americans have been at war one year for every five," she wrote.
Gore Vidal also made that point in his 2002 book, "Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace." We've got to wrap up Afghanistan to get ready for what's on the horizon. Obama has a chance to end the cycle of combat.
He dropped the ball the first time around.
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