OFF THE GRID

Afghanistan: The Taliban and Pakistanis? The President Should Be Worried About the Democrats

Aug 24, 10 | 8:00 AM   byMichael Wolff
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The mid-term election is going to be very bad for the Democrats, with one or both houses lost (oh, let’s just say it).

And the war in Afghanistan is going to get worse—more lethal, more baroque, more no-exit, with less chance of explaining any of it. In a constant or desperate effort to secure moderate and independent support (and not be called a Muslim himself), the president is going to continue to pursue it, to sink deeper into it, and to put his name on it.

So it’s not too early to start asking: What is the likelihood that he is going to face a challenge in his own party for the 2012 nomination?

First to yesterday’s Times story about the brutal manipulations on the part of Pakistan’s intelligence agencies to further their own interests in Afghanistan—capturing a Taliban asset who was conducting peace talks with the Afghanistan government—and our tortured rationale for continuing to do business with them (and doling out vast amounts of money to them):

The Times story is another chapter in how the US, triangulated into having to fight in Afghanistan (as the so-called better alternative to Iraq, and because the president is scared about not fighting Muslims somewhere), has become not just an enabler of some really amazing geo-political corruption, but, in virtually every instance, its dupe.

The story is one more vivid example of why this war is even more preposterous than the one in Iraq: It is not just that it is hard to come up with a winning strategy, or to say what we would win even if we did win, but that, obviously, anybody pursuing the war will end up looking like a fool and an incompetent.

How come these geniuses have so much trouble with the most basic principle of politics: If you fight a war and don’t win it, then you lose.

Both Bush and Obama, with little experience in geo-politics and the march of armies, seemed to have seen their foreign escapades only in terms of politics, and not in terms of actual battlefields (or lack of specific battlefields).

Obama figured that the graceful (more or less) exit out of Iraq was to shift the focus to Afghanistan. And then, I suppose, tread water in Afghanistan and hope to slip out under cover of the fact that the Republicans seem surely unable to field a viable candidate. And, indeed, it is quite likely that he won’t have to fear very much from his Republican opponent—or at least he shouldn’t worry about that.

Rather, a politically deracinated Democratic president incompetently fighting a ludicrous and unwinnable war has more to fear from his own party.

What? This tin pot general, putting people in harm's way without viable plan or satisfactory reason, should get a pass?

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: @MichaelWolffNYC.
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