I'll know it's almost time to retire when a situation like last night doesn't get the adrenaline flowing and stir the creative juices. Obama gave his speech at 5:00 PST, and the last train leaves at 6:50, so I had to listen to the speech, check my notes, and write this editorial by about 6:20 to have time for Cathy to read it, ask a few questions, change a few things and get it ready for the next day's paper. It went on the Web site right away, and also onto the FreedomPolitics.com site.
It wasn't that hard to write. We have been urging military disengagement in Afghanistan for at least a year, for reasons we think are sound and that haven't changed much. There is no significant al-Qaida presence in Afghanistan, so the main thing we're accomplishing by keeping troops there is fueling the Taliban insurgency and acting as a crutch for the corrupt and ineffectual Karzai regime. Obama's "surge" (greater in percentage terms than Bush's 2007 Iraq surge) is unlikely to achieve much of anything for reasons the editorial explains.
In a later posting on the Register's Orange Punch blog, I played with the idea that this might have been as shrewd a course as Obama could have charted given the bad options facing him and assuming he wasn't going to begin an Afghan pull-out or even a military de-emphasis. He's letting the military throw a Hail Mary, giving it 18 months (ior 12 after the build-up is completed) to do serious damage to the Taliban. Then he'lkl be able to say he gave it his best shot (and maybve even cite some signs of progress) and it's time to begin the pull-out. Don't know if that's his game, but if it is it just might be the least-worst of what was feasible.
Of course there's some gross cynicism involved; he's sending X number of Americans to their deaths -- surely the death toll will rise with more troops and m,ore active engagement, unless the Taliban just plays possum, and those people will have died for nothing.