Michael Barone

"The short answer is no," McChrystal said. "You have to navigate from where you are, not where you wish to be. A strategy that does not leave Afghanistan in a stable position is probably a shortsighted strategy." The next day, on his hastily scheduled trip to Copenhagen to lobby for Chicago's bid for the 2016 Olympics, Obama managed to squeeze in 25 minutes for McChrystal. Presumably McChrystal defended his "I don't want to say myths, but a lot of assumptions."

What to make of all this? First, Afghanistan was never a "war of necessity." It was, like all our wars, a "war of choice." Franklin Roosevelt could have avoided provoking Nazi Germany and imperial Japan; eminences like Joseph P. Kennedy and Charles Lindbergh were arguing that we could survive, perhaps uncomfortably, in a Nazi-dominated world. But Roosevelt chose to risk war in order to rid the world of evildoers.

Declaring Afghanistan a "war of necessity" was a way for Obama and other Democrats to attack George W. Bush for choosing, in their view unwisely, to wage war in Iraq. But now when it comes time to wage the "war of necessity" in the way that our carefully selected general recommends, it turns out not to be so necessary any more. Not when Democratic politicians and Democratic voters are shying away from it.

It's not clear yet that the "senior advisers" who were mocking McChrystal's assumptions will prevail. In his 25 minutes on Air Force One, McChrystal may have used his knowledge and experience to convince Obama that his judgment was better than that of the armchair generals that the president had listened to for three hours the day before. Maybe Obama will choose to wage his "war of necessity" in the way the general he selected believes is necessary for us to succeed.

But I wouldn't bet heavily on it -- not any more, in fact, than I would have bet on Chicago's chances of hosting the 2016 Olympic games.


Michael Barone

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM