That so many American realists are clamoring for"victory" in Afghanistan while giving up on Iraq would probably surprise the proverbial man from Mars. Imagine him as Martian von Clausewitz landing in Washington this year. Based on hard-core geostrategic calculations, he would likely argue that the U.S. has more reason to remain engaged in Mesopotamia—including the need to maintain access to the energy resources in the Persian Gulf and to protect key allies in the region from the alleged threat of Iran—than to be drawn into Afghanistan's civil war in the name of nation-building.
I must admit that I could not agree more. Indeed, I find Leon Hadar's suggestion that we leave Afghanistan to India, Russia and Turkey (I would add China) well considered. Not only are those Afghani neighbors already involved in an new/old great game as evidenced by the bombing of the Indian and Pakistani embassies in Kabul but no American general would chose to locate an important front in those remote mountain peaks inhabitant by ferocious xenophobes. Moreover, it is most unlikely that even an Obama presidency would be enough to tempt any Afghani warlord to repeat Mullah Omar's mistake and allow Jihadists based in his country to attack the US especially given the vast number of alternative targets.
Let's be honest, Afghanistan is bound to be one of the last places reclaimed for civilization. Iraq, of course, is the cradle of civilization. There are reasons for the discrepancy. I do disagree with making the capture of Bin Laden a top priority. Look how long Karadzic could hide in plain sight in Belgrade. How long do you think Bin Laden can do the same in chaotic Karachi or Islamabad? Let's face facts, at the moment Bin Laden is no more important than Karadzic was prior to his capture.
It's time we recognize that at this moment a crucial battle is being fought on the economic front and it is one we must not lose. I hate to diss presidential candidate Obama, but keeping our tires inflated is not going to solve the problem of our funding our de facto enemies. We must drill now to decrease the hemorrhage and invest in alternative energies ASAP.
Unfortunately, when planning their campaigns, this was not a front they considered. By changing his position on off shore drilling, John McCain shows that he starts to get it. By trying to solve the problem by giving money to low income people, Obama demonstrates that he does not. Congress which refuses even to consider more drilling certainly does not.
The price of oil is not the primary problem, onerous as it may be. Our funding of OPEC and it's allies, is. Aiding poorer Americans pay their energy bill, may sound good to those hoping to benefit from the it. Alas, it is NOT the way to win or even survive OPEC's economic attack on the West. To succeed on the economic front we must decrease our use of foreign energy sources and increase our use of American energy sources be it oil or ethanol. Paying Brazil for sugar cane, will not solve the problem. Paying Kansas for corn may be though the price to poor countries already struggling under high oil prices is awful to contemplate.
It is time to remember that dreams are all good but they cannot stop reality from biting. Do you wish to know what the economic price of losing would be? Ask a citizen of the former USSR what life in Russia was like in the 90's.
Does that mean that the military has been relegated to secondary position? Alas, no. Nuclearizing Iran must be dealt with, the collapse of nuclear Pakistan threatens and Putin's Russia is waiting in the wings, hoping we stumble.
Sorry, we are driving on a very bumpy mountain road and we better make darn sure that our next driver is going to be up to the task.
Thank G-d for democracy. The will to power gets those who want it do the right thing. Congressional Republican acted and seeing political vulnerability Obama modified at least his verbal attitude towards increasing oil supplies. The question, of course, remains, can he be trusted to walk the new walk?!