According to Politico, George Will’s next column will call for a withdrawal of US ground troops from Afghanistan:
“[F]orces should be substantially reduced to serve a comprehensively revised policy: America should do only what can be done from offshore, using intelligence, drones, cruise missiles, airstrikes and small, potent special forces units, concentrating on the porous 1,500-mile border with Pakistan, a nation that actually matters,” Will writes in the column, scheduled for publication later this week.
So now it’s time for the real questions:
1) What do we know about this strategy’s ability to interdict Al Qaeda units? It sounds great and high-tech and sexy. Note: not just special forces units, but POTENT special forces units (as opposed to Limbaugh special forces units?). It relies on “intelligence”: do we have any human intelligence in Afghanistan? (Insert joke here: you know what I mean). But does it really mean anything?
2) In the pre-9/11 period, we would have loved to have done that, but could not get access to doing it. At times, Pakistan would allow flyovers, but the ISI is so infiltrated by Al-Qaeda sympathizers that it was pointless: Bin Laden would always be alerted. So that seems to imply a large presence in the participatory democracy of Uzbekistan. How confident are we of maintaining that presence?
3) And if the answers to these questions are 1) we don’t know; and 2) we don’t know, are we prepared to say, “yes, this will increase the chance of Al Qaeda reconstitution and the terrorism that would come with that, but that is a better deal than getting caught in quagmire”? The Republicans, who can reliably be counted to put party over country, will accuse Obama of selling out no matter what he does. So at least at some level the politics have to be considered.