The president gave a speech on Tuesday night about why there will continue to be a substantial — if dwindling — American military presence in Afghanistan for two more years. He gave it like this:
As we move forward, some people will ask why we need a firm timeline. The answer is clear: our goal is not to build a country in America’s image, or to eradicate every vestige of the Taliban. These objectives would require many more years, many more dollars, and many more American lives. Our goal is to destroy al Qaeda, and we are on a path to do exactly that. Afghans want to fully assert their sovereignty and build a lasting peace. That requires a clear timeline to wind down the war. Others will ask why we don’t leave immediately. That answer is also clear: we must give Afghanistan the opportunity to stabilize. Otherwise, our gains could be lost, and al Qaeda could establish itself once more. And as Commander-in-Chief, I refuse to let that happen.
Speaking as a single American citizen, I don’t think there ever will be an Afghan government as described by the president in his speech. I don’t think there will be Afghan institutions that will work reasonably to curtail the level of violence, let along bring equal rights to all Afghans. I don’t think the Taliban will negotiate in good faith to become some part of a functioning governing coalition. And I’m not entirely sure that locking the credibility of the foreign policy of the United States to Hamid Karzai’s ability to become some sort of regional leader isn’t a unicorn hunt of the first order. But, still, he was talking about the wrong country….