This war might still be winnable, but the notion that Afghanistan is somehow quickly going to turn around is a very bad bet. There’s good reason to believe we’ll be lucky to see any progress by the 2010 mid-terms. And anything looking like a successful resolution and a won war by 2012 is probably off the table.
So, does a very liberal Obama with a very liberal domestic policy he desperately wants to see enacted feel like carrying a potentially very unpopular war on his back at the same time?
I’ve always said that Afghanistan is not winnable in the way that Iraq is winnable, mostly because of the environment and the near-total lack of natural resources other than poppy fields. And I’ve always said that we won’t really know if Iraq was really won until 2023 (twenty years after the invasion). We may never know if Afghanistan was won, no matter how much better we manage to make things.
But we can lose in a couple of months.
Because of the difficult, long-term, and uncertain nature of victory in Afghanistan, the temptation is always going to be there to pull the plug. Might Obama’s falling approval ratings provide the motivation to do so soon?
Remember, despite the fact that we’ve all been treated to six years of “Iraq is the wrong war…Afghanistan is right!“, Afghanistan was certainly the wrong war in late 2001 and 2002. Now that things are dying down in Iraq and, for the time being, we appear to be nearly totally victorious, Afghanistan will become a bad war again.