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More than ‘win the war’

I think we’re at a make-or-break point in Afghanistan, maybe past the make-or-break point. The Taliban and Al-Qaeda seemed to be gaining more and more of a foothold in the country the past couple of years, and we haven’t seen a reversal of momentum in the U.S. direction since the Obama administration took charge of the policy there in January.

U.S. Sen. Jim Webb isn’t quite there with me on my make-or-break observation, but it sounds like we’re in the same ballpark.

“I think we’re at a decision point in terms of what it is the United States wants to do in Afghanistan,” Webb told me Monday during a quick visit to Staunton. “The initial involvement was to address international terrorism. What they’re moving toward now is the notion that you need to rebuild the nation’s governmental structure in order to address the issue of international terrorism. That’s a completely different thing.

“So it’s not a make-or-break point. It’s a decision point as to what the nature of the American involvement should be,” Webb said.

The phrase “nature of the American involvement” speaks volumes as to where things are going in Afghanistan. People just basically familiar with recent Afghan history remember that Afghanistan is where the Soviet Union went unknowingly to die with a 1979 invasion that lingered into the end of the 1980s before the Red Army meekly declared victory on its way to irrelevance. The U.S. has been bogged down in Afghanistan now for eight years following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., that precipitated the military action in Afghanistan aimed at combating the Al Qaeda terrroist network and its friends in the ruling Taliban Afghan government.

I agree with Webb that it’s hard for us to know what we need to do to “win the war” in Afghanistan, as the yard signs popular on the right implore, when we don’t know what winning the war means.

“It’s really important for them to come up with a clearly articulated strategy that has an endpoint in terms of American military involvement that everyone can understand. That’s just as true for the Obama administration as it would have been for the Bush administration. We need to see how this is going to play out,” Webb said.


– Story by Chris Graham

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augusta free press news