No propagandized photo shoots on aircraft carriers or staged images of little Afghan girls going to school will ever demonstrate that the Bush Crime Family's ill-defined mission in Afghanistan was accomplished.
Now the inheritor of that hot mess, President Obama, is stuck with a no-win situation in Afghanistan, a nation that no invading force in 5,000 years of history has ever successfully conquered or occupied. His Liberal supporters want us out of that bloody theater immediately, while those to the right demand the US remain in this masterful disaster created by the Bush Crime Family indefinitely.
Despite the President's determined tone and forceful speech from Kabul, critics on both sides remain disgruntled with the lack of progress, despite the killing of bin Laden this time last year. The Neocons aren't happy about that, either. About half of them claim -- mysteriously -- that is is somehow a victory for the Bush administration and the other say it took Obama too long to do it and/or it wasn't a necessary action anymore. If the President mentions troop withdrawal, it's either too late for some or too soon for others. The political war is as un-winnable as the battle on the ground.
The speech had little calming effect on the streets, either, with fresh violence erupting hours after the President's departure. The LA Times reports:
"A team of burka-clad bombers and gunmen stormed a heavily guarded residential compound used mainly by Western contractors early Wednesday, killing seven people, including a carload of Afghan passersby and a student on his way to school, officials said. All four attackers died as well. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, and described it as signaling disgust and anger at a surprise overnight visit by President Obama, who had departed the country shortly before the first heavy explosion echoed across the city."
The President has sent mixed messages about the war from the beginning. On the campaign trail he vowed, convincingly, to remove our troops from Afghanistan early in his Presidency. He reiterated his promise to end that war "in 18 months" after his election in 2009. His message of troop draw-down hasn't changed, but the timeline is more vague, with no definite timeline for troop pull-out, and a new stated commitment to leave troops there until "at least 2024" as part of a U.S.-Afghan "Strategic Partnership Agreement."
Richard Haass, writing for the Huffington Post, explains it this way:
"The bigger question over the president's speech is not that some U.S. forces are to stay in Afghanistan -- U.S. forces have remained in other hot spots for decades and played a useful role -- but centers on the purpose and scale of the ongoing commitment. Mr. Obama put forward two rationales. The first is that absent this effort, 'al-Qaeda could establish itself once more' inside the country. This is of course true. But it could regroup in Afghanistan even with this effort. More important, it is not clear how this possibility would distinguish Afghanistan from, say, Yemen or Somalia or Nigeria. The global effort against terror is just that -- global -- and there is no reason for the effort in Afghanistan to be large. It is not the central battleground in a struggle against an enemy with access to dozens of countries.
"All of which takes us to the second rationale for the announced policy: to 'finish the job we started in Afghanistan and end this war responsibly.' But past sacrifice is a poor justification for continued sacrifice unless it is warranted. The truth is that while the United Sates still has interests in Afghanistan, none of them, other than opposing al-Qaeda, rise to the level of vital. And this vital interest can be addressed with a modest commitment of troops and dollars."
No matter the final withdrawal plan or eventual level of troop commitment, there is no question that entire devastating and pointless act of war has been a disaster of epic proportions, from the human lives lost, to the billions of tax dollars squandered, the damage to our global reputation resulting from scandals like Abu Graib, and the utter failure to accomplish anything there other than economic damage and mass death on both sides.
Or was that the mission all along?