With Obama sliding in another 13,000 troops (please note in that link to a Washington Post story the always-objective paper's permanent "AfPak War" story hed and subhed, with subhed reading "combating extremism in Afghanistan and Pakistan"–that's speaking approved euphemisms to power, Post!) and Gen. McChrystal thinking that another 80,000 might be needed to really do the job, whatever that is, right, a good moment to read Andrew Bachevich's Boston Globe op-ed on the stakes for America's future in the decision Obama has to make on the future of our, er, endeavors in Afghanistan:
Implementing the McChrystal plan will perpetuate the longstanding fundamentals of US national security policy: maintaining a global military presence, configuring US forces for global power projection, and employing those forces to intervene on a global basis….at its core, the McChrystal plan aims to avert change. Its purpose—despite 9/11 and despite the failures of Iraq—is to preserve the status quo.
Hawks understand this. That's why they are intent on framing the debate so narrowly—it's either give McChrystal what he wants or accept abject defeat. It's also why they insist that Obama needs to decide immediately….
If the president assents to McChrystal's request, he will void his promise of change at least so far as national security policy is concerned. The Afghanistan war will continue until the end of his first term and probably beyond. It will consume hundreds of billions of dollars. It will result in hundreds or perhaps thousands more American combat deaths—costs that the hawks are loath to acknowledge.
As the fighting drags on from one year to the next, the engagement of US forces in armed nation-building projects in distant lands will become the new normalcy. Americans of all ages will come to accept war as a perpetual condition, as young Americans already do. That "keeping Americans safe" obliges the United States to seek, maintain, and exploit unambiguous military supremacy will become utterly uncontroversial.
A piece I wrote back in the dawn of the Iraq war on "how being a hawk means never having to say you're sorry."