Superpowers do not announce their retreats with a proclamation, but in a whisper. During the past week an extraordinary whisper campaign has begun in the United States. It is suddenly politically correct to openly discuss the prospect that the Afghan war is lost. Gone are the public pronouncements of retired Generals James Marks, Paul Vallely and David Grange that all is well. Now we hear from retired General Paul Eaton that the State Department has been missing in action in Afghanistan and is responsible for our loss. We hear from Richard N. Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations, that the $2 billion the U.S. is spending per week in Afghanistan could be better used at home. Finally, we hear from former NATO Commander, General Stanley McChrystal, that the Afghan war is only half-won. His gloomy assessment of the war, delivered in a speech on October 6, 2011, before the Council on Foreign Relations, included the quote that the United States entered into Afghanistan 10 years ago with a “frighteningly simplistic” understanding of that country (which appears little changed).
Before another American or Afghan soldier is killed or maimed a complete and accurate appraisal of the war effort should be made public by the Obama Administration. That means that all the facts (good and bad) need to be produced. American and Afghan soldiers and their families deserve an honest assessment regarding the status of this war. The American and Afghan peoples deserve an honest assessment regarding the status of this war. The truth should spur a multinational debate on whether the war is lost or whether a more sustainable alternative strategy exists to reverse the current decline.
If the Afghan war is lost, then it is dishonorable for the Obama Administration to send more soldiers off to die. If young men and women are being sacrificed just so an incumbent President can enhance his reelection prospects, then that President has truly lost his way.