"The situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating," said President Obama, as he announced deployment of 17,000 more U.S. troops.
"I'm absolutely convinced that you cannot solve the problem of Afghanistan, the Taliban, the spread of extremism in that region, solely through military means."
"(T)here is no military solution in Afghanistan," says Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Said U.S. Commander Gen. David McKiernan yesterday, U.S. and NATO forces are "stalemated."
Such admissions by our military and political leadership in a time of war call to mind other words heard back in 1951, when Gen. Douglas MacArthur delivered his farewell address to the Congress:
"(O)nce war is forced upon us," said MacArthur, "there is no other alternative than to apply every available means to bring it to a swift end. War's very object is victory, not prolonged indecision.
"In war, there is no substitute for victory."
But if victory over the Taliban has been ruled out by the United States, have the Taliban ruled out a victory over the American Empire to rival the one their fathers won over the Soviet Empire?
What price are we prepared to pay, in "prolonged indecision," to avert such an end to a war now in its eighth year?
America had best brace herself for difficult days ahead.
For stepping back from the dreary prognosis for Afghanistan, a new reality becomes clear. The long retreat has begun.
Whether it is in the 23 months Gen. Petraeus favors, or the 16 months Obama promised, the United States is coming home from Iraq.
The retreat from Central Asia is already underway. Expelled from the K-2 air base in Uzbekistan in 2005, the United States has now been ordered out of the Manas air base in Kyrgyzstan. Abkhazia and South Ossetia, ripped away from Georgia by Russia last August, are never going to be returned. And we all know it.
Georgia and Ukraine, most realists now realize, are not going to be admitted to NATO. We're not going to fight Russia over the Crimea. And the U.S. anti-missile missiles and radars George Bush intended to deploy in Poland and the Czech Republic will not now be deployed.
For Washington has fish to fry with Russia, and the price of her cooperation is withdrawal of U.S. military forces from her backyard and front porch. And the warm words flowing between Moscow and Washington suggest the deal is done.