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On Withdrawal Timetables

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  • On Withdrawal Timetables

    Regular readers of my columns know I have some serious reservations about the Afghan surge. This column is not about those reservations, however. It is about the reservations of others.

    At the same time the president announced the surge he also outlined a timeframe for completion of the mission and withdrawal. A number of people have expressed reservations about that timetable. All of those people are political opponents of the president.

    I don’t normally talk about partisan politics; I prefer to address the issues on their merits. In this case I mention political alignment because there is no other way I can think of to understand the criticism. These seem to be people who, in saner moments, would embrace the Afghan surge without reservation, but are politically required to find something wrong with it due solely to its author. I say this because the criticism is so . . . bizarre that it can only be explained in terms of political motivation or foolishness. Since these folks are, for the most part, not fools, I think we have to look elsewhere for explanations.

    This criticism takes two forms.

    “Accomplishment of a military mission of this importance should never be confined to an arbitrary completion date.”

    Sure. That’s why young infantry officers are used to hearing frag’ orders like this: “Captain, it is essential for further operation of the division that we hold Hill 147, so your rifle company will take it. Because this is such an important mission, I’m not setting a deadline. Take as ...


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