I felt isolated in opposing the war in Iraq from around January 2002 until. . . now. And I feel isolated and unsettled being so exorcised that we remain in Afghanistan.
I feel isolated, but not at all unsettled, about opposing the use of drones to assassinate U.S. citizens, far from any battlefield, without any check or balance (or public acknowledgment that we've done it, except when it boosts electoral chances), but I needn't go there.
I don't consider myself an isolationist, I don't consider myself a peacenik, I don't consider myself a
[Well, I do understand -- it would be political suicide to "end the war" without "victory," and a first-term president would be handing his opponent the "weak" stick with which to beat the incumbent. But only a sick cynic would suggest that politics influences our conduct of war. An unthinking sick cynic.]
No one has articulated a meaningful, realistic "victory" that would free us to withdraw our troops. If we intend to wait until Jeffersonian democracy takes toot, well -- I'm putting that in the "unrealistic" column. Similarly, if we're fighting and dying there until the threat of anti-American extremists is eliminated -- same column.
Oh, wait. We're not unrealistic? We only want to "reduce" the threat of anti-American extremists? What, pray tell, is the calculus for a sufficient reduction? And why wasn't I told?
I know -- the realists will admit that we won't eliminate threats. And they'll admit that we've already drastically reduced threats. But we need a perch from which to invade Pakistan periodically.
As some wag said in '68, '69, '70 -- thereabouts -- let's just declare victory and get out.
We were worried in the sixties, of course, about letting a powerful cabal of critics and enemies of the United States remain in power with a sufficiently stable platform from which they could export their evil Anti-American thinking. Those dominoes just couldn't fall.
Are things the same now? Of course not. The genie's outta the bottle. Suicide bombers routinely kill. International travel has changed. Communications by the bad guys are immensely better. We're more threatened here within our borders (you know, the "homeland"). This just isn't Vietnam.
Is our presence in Afghanistan reducing that threat? Is it doing it well enough, and at an acceptable cost for the increased "security"?