So argues Gene Healy in the Washington Examiner. The evidence:
You don't need Woodward's connections to figure out that the Afghan War is a hideous, unwinnable, unnecessary mess. But the Post reporter's stenographic, fly-on-the-wall account of key meetings bolsters the case that the Obama administration should have recognized that from the start.
"We haven't really seen an Arab here in a couple of years," the Afghan theater commander admitted to Vice President Biden early on. Nor was there much reason to believe that the Taliban would risk providing al Qaeda a safe haven if the U.S. left.
Nevertheless, the military brass pushed hard for more troops. We'd have to provide security while we built a government Afghans could trust — and we might only have a year to do it. Unfortunately, the existing government was "a criminal syndicate," Gen. David Petraeus admitted at a meeting in October 2009. Biden, of all people, asked the pertinent question: "If the government's a 'criminal syndicate' a year from now, how will troops make a difference?"
"No one recorded an answer," Woodward reports.
If we leave too soon, though, Obama warned in early 2009, we'd see "denial of human rights to the Afghan people, especially women and girls."
That's what Time Magazine suggested last July, with a gruesome cover photograph of a teenage girl who'd had her nose sliced off by the Taliban. "What Happens if We Leave Afghanistan" the caption read — no question mark.
Yet that brutal crime happened while we stayed, as did August's execution of a young couple from Kunduz province who had eloped against their parents' wishes. "Hundreds of men, stones in hand, closed in to carry out the mullah's death sentence," the Los Angeles Times reported…..
Last October, Woodward reports, National Security Adviser James Jones called an emergency meeting with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. "The president was not happy": After countless meetings and dueling memoranda, "they had not found a way to articulate why the United States was in Afghanistan. What were America's interests?"
It was a good question then. A year and several hundred fallen soldiers later, it's still a good question.
My last look at Obama's Afghan mess from August.