Last summer, President Obama spent several months publicly anguishing over what he would or wouldn't do in Afghanistan. Finally, he agreed to ramp up troop levels but warned that he intended to start getting American troops out in 18 months. After anguishing in several columns over the president's anguishing, I concluded in November 2009:
"If the Taliban and al Qaeda retake Afghanistan, the world (and America) will have hell to pay for the consequences. But this president and this White House do not have it in them to lead our troops to victory in Afghanistan. So they shouldn't try. The price will be high for whatever foreign policy failures we will endure in the next three years. Let's not add to that price the pointless murder of our finest young troops in a war their leader does not believe in. Bring them home. We'll need them later."
At the time, about five months ago, the New York Times also reported that Mr. Obama "admonished President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan that he must take on what American officials have said he avoided during his first term: the rampant corruption and drug trade that have fueled the resurgence of the Taliban."
Mr. Obama told reporters that he was seeking "a sense on the part of President Karzai that, after some difficult years in which there has been some drift, that in fact he's going to move boldly and forcefully forward and take advantage of the international community's interest in his country to initiate reforms internally. That has to be one of our highest priorities."
Mr. Karzai and the Afghan government were told "to put into place an anticorruption commission to establish strict accountability for government officials at the national and provincial levels. ..."
"In addition, some American officials and their European counterparts would like at least a few arrests of what one administration official called 'the more blatantly corrupt' people in the Afghan government."
That same week, coincidentally, the New York Times reported on the front page the name of a purported CIA-paid undercover asset. It was none other than Ahmed Wali Karzai, the powerful brother of the Afghan president. The Times cited, on background, Obama administration "political officials," "senior administration officials" and others as its sources to the effect that the Afghan president's brother has been secretly on the CIA payroll for eight years as well as being a major narcotics trafficker.
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.