Here’s a link to analysis from Princeton prof Julian E. Zelizer to go along with this diary. Paragraphs 10 & 11 particularly cogent. Promoted by Rosi.
Our War of Independence which we are proud to celebrate today was hard fought and successfully won. Most, not all, of our other many military engagements have been ill-advised, cost too many lives, wasted money, and proven to be non- productive, and some have ended in embarrassment. Once begun presidents and legislators have a hard time stopping wars, as some form, and often a changing form, of “Victory” is foremost in their minds. Such is our sad history in Afghanistan and Iraq, where no pre-established exit plan was created and the goal posts to justify continuation keep changing.
Five months after elections, Iraq has still not formed a government, adding another impediment to our withdrawal. Mutterings within the military imply the possible need for extending our stay. In reality shortly after we reduce troops to a “holding” number, whenever that occurs, Iraqis will do as they wish, not as our leaders proclaim. So now is the time to to hasten our withdrawal.
In Afghanistan what started as a counter-terrorism action (kill al-Qaeda and its leaders) has morphed into a counter-insurgency activity (strengthen the government and people) which requires a timeframe of another ten years not the one year which the President advocated. Indeed, interpretation of the July 2011 deadline seems constantly in flux. Most of al-Qaeda has left to greener pastures, so much of our effort is in fighting different anti-government elements, which upon our departure, whenever that is, will do as they wish anyway. While a limited counter-terrorism action in the border area has some merit for us, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, our government’s notion of creating a stable government and nation in such a short time frame is a pipe dream. So now is the time to hasten our withdrawal.
So today while we enjoy this weekend and celebrate the independence one war brought us, let’s have no illusions: now is the time to hasten our withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan.