Wednesday, July 6, 2011


In short, whatever the fashionable language of the day, we Americans do not much like fighting merely to achieve commitments and goals. We like to win. There is a fair argument to be made that we won in Iraq—a proposition that might be admitted even by those of us who wonder whether it was worth the price. We toppled the regime with surprising ease (crushing a 400,000-man Army along the way), then dragged Saddam Hussein from his hole in the ground. We left in place a democracy that, although struggling, seems likely to survive.
In Afghanistan, we plainly won the first war—toppling the Taliban in mere weeks—and President Obama should not be reluctant to say so. But we have grown weary of the longer conflict to keep the Taliban from returning to power. If Obama truly believes the time has come for the fighting to stop, perhaps he should be guided by the example of Dwight D. Eisenhower, who famously proclaimed during World War II that there is no substitute for victory, then accepted a bitter stalemate in Korea. But he demanded a signed armistice first, and left a massive American force in place to guard the uneasy peace.

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