The Corner

The one and only.

The Afghan War’s Dismal End: Blame Bush Too


Barack Obama’s announcement today that the number of U.S. troops will be reduced to 9,800 by year’s end and to zero two years later virtually declares that this war, which will have lasted slightly over 15 years and nearly all of four presidential terms, will end in total American failure.

That’s because the Taliban and other Islamist forces have already made a substantial comeback; because the coalition-sponsored Afghan leaders have proven themselves corrupt and inept; and because Americans and other Western populations remain unconvinced that this war is worth their lives and treasury. As I have often predicted, about both Afghanistan and Iraq, it’s only a matter of a few more years before the impact of thousands of lives and trillions of dollars devoted to their liberation will disappear with little more than a trace.

Republicans are quick to jump on Obama and blame him for this sorry state of affairs. But not me. The two problems they point to – an inadequate number of troops to win and an arbitrary deadline for the troops to withdraw – can both be traced back to George W. Bush. He initiated the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, starved them of troops, and imposed a deadline for troop withdrawals from Iraq as arbitrary as Obama’s for Afghanistan.

Only when Republicans take ownership of the problem that GWB created and bequeathed to BHO can they regain credibility on foreign-policy issues. 


Sign up for free NRO e-mails today:

Subscribe to National Review