The buzzword on Afghanistan is "trust."
Having routed the Taliban, liberated millions, midwived a (Sharia-supreme) constitution, assisted in elections, propped up a government and routed the Taliban some more, all the United States needs now to win victory in Afghanistan is to win the "trust" of the Afghan people.
So, cockamamiely, wrote Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, in a column appearing in the Washington Post just days before President Obama ordered 17,000 new troops to Afghanistan, nearly doubling the American presence there.
The president's top military adviser explained the policy this way: "We have learned, after seven years of war, that trust is the coin of the realm -- that building it takes time, losing it take mere seconds, and maintaining it may be our most important and most difficult objective."
Sorry, admiral, but if that is what we have "learned" in a war that has claimed more than 600 American lives, wounded and maimed thousands more, and cost billions of pre-bailout dollars, we are practically done for.
Why? The short answer is that in making a primary objective out of winning the "trust" of the Afghan people, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs has, by definition, abandoned all rational war policy. Indeed, he has placed the marker for American success not on the ability of U.S. forces to execute their missions, but on the emotional reaction of the average, illiterate, infidel-hostile, modernity-challenged Afghan to those missions.
"Lose the (Afghan) people's trust," Mullen writes, "and we lose the war." I wish I could say I've never heard such fatuous counsel, but the entire so-called war on terror, from start to non-finish, reverberates with this same sort of line. It tends to turn profound Islamic differences from the West into profound Western failings toward Islam. Rather than walk our nation up to the cultural chasm between Islam and the West and show us what it looks like, our leaders have, in effect, made that chasm into their own personal responsibility, something to fill in, paper over and, above all, never, ever mention.