Pat Buchanan

"There is an awful feeling that everything is lurching downward," the Western diplomat told The Washington Post.

"Nearly five years on, there is no rule of law. ... The Afghans know it is all a charade, and they see us as not only complicit, but actively involved. You cannot fight a terror war and build a weak state at the same time, and it was a terrible mistake to think we could." What that disconsolate diplomat is saying is that America is losing the Afghan war.

According to the Post report, President Hamid Karzai is losing the confidence of his people and our European allies. The Taliban dominates the southeast of the country at night and is fighting in the largest units it has deployed since the fall of the regime in 2001. Anti-Americanism is spreading. A fatal accident, involving a U.S. military vehicle, caused anti-American riots across the capital.

NATO forces, who are to take over from the Americans in the embattled provinces, are likely to begin taking causalities as soon as they arrive. Meanwhile, the narcotics traffickers are bolder than ever.

In Iraq, the good news -- Zarqawi's death, completion of the Cabinet -- is old news. Sen. Richard Lugar describes present conditions as grim: "Given current events in Baghdad ... quite apart from Anbar province, the violence is horrific."

Lugar was reacting to reports that the U.S. commander, Gen. George Casey, has presented a plan to the Pentagon to substantially reduce U.S. troop levels by year's end and cut U.S. combat brigades in Iraq from today's 14, to five or six by the end of 2007.

But, as there is no sign the insurgency is defeated, and daily evidence it is stronger than ever, how do we propose to draw down U.S. forces from the 127,000 there, without risking disaster?

The new Baghdad government is also proposing an amnesty to the insurgents, though not al-Qaida or the Saddamites. But if this means a free pass into politics for insurgents who have killed U.S. soldiers, America will react with rage -- and demand an even earlier withdrawal.

Neither in Afghanistan or Iraq does there seem to be either a strategic plan to defeat the enemy and build an enduring democracy, or adequate U.S. and allied forces to ensure such a victory.

The question then could not be more critical. If victory in Iraq and Afghanistan is the Bush goal, why does he not tell the nation of the sacrifices victory clearly requires -- an indefinite commitment of far more U.S. troops than we have yet sent into either conflict?

Pat Buchanan

Pat Buchanan is a founding editor of The American Conservative magazine, and the author of many books including State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America .
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