OFF THE GRID

Afghanistan Could Ruin Everything—Soon!

Sep 2, 09 | 10:04 AM   byMichael Wolff
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No, really, what are they going to do about Afghanistan?

And how much time do they have left to do it?

I figure a month. Summer's over, the Afghanistan election is coming to its fraudulent conclusion, the military has apparently just issued its bleakest report yet (still secret, but it has begun to leak out), and, shortly, there will be the inevitable request for ever-more troops.

The formal debate got underway yesterday, starting with the conservatives. George Will made the obvious case for getting the hell out of there; Bill Kristol accused him of being a lily-livered traitor.

If the conservatives are divided over this war, it’s going to be murder among the Democrats. That’s the real timetable, or ticking bomb: When do the Democrats, heretofore necessarily patient with the White House, blow?

Let’s assume they can’t not blow. The anti-war faction of the Democratic party isn’t going to be upstaged by George Will (of all people). The left-of-center Democrats can’t blithely accept another boost in the number of troops. And it isn’t going to be easy for anybody, no less the Democrats, to explain or swallow this election.

So what’s the plan in the White House? On top of the plan for Afghanistan there must be a plan for what to do with a party that, without a quick exit scenario, is going to break down the middle. Forget health care, this is war. The fury of the Democrats is going to make the Obama administration wish for the contempt and obstreperousness of right-wing Republicans.

All that’s needed for the Democrats to break is one reasonably credible voice near the middle of the party—which will come. Soon. In a month.

It may be too late for White House to head it off.

They’ve boxed themselves in. They’re going to have to respond to this bleak military appraisal—but how? Only with more troops, which is going to make at least half of the Democratic party crazy, or with a timetable for withdrawal, which would require an elaborate restatement of our purpose and goals. Barack Obama has gotten himself into the same position in Afghanistan as George Bush got himself into in Iraq. They both tied themselves to the necessity of fighting terrorism in a specific place.

Do they know how bad this could be? Are they rushing health care through knowing Afghanistan is going to turn into a nightmare?

Is there any other outcome here but disaster? In a month.


More of Newser founder Michael Wolff's articles and commentary can be found at VanityFair.com, where he writes a regular column. He can be emailed at michael@newser.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: www.twitter.com/NewserColumns.
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