Tony Blankley

The administration's Afghanistan War policy seems to be settling into a dismal combination of confusion and cynicism. Before the November elections the administration was adamant that the troops would start coming home by July 2011. This, it is presumed, was to keep the president's liberals calm.

But before the various recounts were even finished, the White House announced that the target date for turning the fighting over to the Afghan government was pushed back to 2014 -- and that even that distant date was merely "aspirational." 2014, presumably is to keep the pro-war Republicans and Pentagon calm.

But can any rational observer remain calm as we watch our young brave troops risking -- and too often giving -- their last measure of devotion in that god-forsaken land? It is not clear what has changed for a Westerner fighting in Afghanistan since Rudyard Kipling wrote the flowing closing stanzas in his poem "The Young British Soldier":

"If your officer's dead and the sergeants look white,

Remember it's ruin to run from a fight:

So take open order, lie down, and sit tight,

And wait for supports like a soldier.

Wait, wait, wait like a soldier ...

When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,

And the women come out to cut up what remains,

Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains

An' go to your Gawd like a soldier."

I am not arguing that we could not win a theoretical war in Afghanistan. But this particular war is being fought without sufficient resources, without a strategy than can remotely succeed and, most unfortunately, with at least one eye on our domestic politics, rather than both eyes on victory.

Regarding resources, the strategy calls for us to deny sanctuary to the enemy such that al-Qaida could not get back in the country safely. Yet even with the surge troops, we cannot occupy any but the most populous areas -- so even if we succeed in our current efforts (which we are not doing), we will not be executing our strategy for want of troops.

Regarding the strategic failure, the premise of this war as currently being run is that we turn everything over to our Afghan government army and policy, who will be capable of maintaining whatever successes our troops will have achieved. This is laughable.

As virtually any troops or officers recently back from Afghanistan will tell you, the number of troops and police being recruited, trained and kept in service is pathetically short of targets.

Moreover, most of them won't fight. The idea that they will be ready to take over in 2011 or even 2014 is just not in the cards. And yet that is our strategic exit strategy.


Tony Blankley

Tony Blankley, a conservative author and commentator who served as press secretary to Newt Gingrich during the 1990s, when Republicans took control of Congress, died Sunday January 8, 2012. He was 63.

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.

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