Count me among the skeptical of Obama's new Afghanistan strategy. What really worries me is what I'll call the "reverse canary" problem. Simply put, the wrong people are too happy.And that's the major, major problem with Obama's "We will defeat Al-Qaeda " policy in Afghanistan: it can't work. It weds us to another four, if not eight years in Afghanistan with precisely zero progress to show for it. The same idiotic "benchmarks" are in play, the same "surge" strategy is underway now, and the simple fact of the matter is Obama is running the Bush playbook in Kabul.
You're all familiar with the phrase "canary in the coal mine." The idea was that miners would bring canaries down into the mines as warning signals. When the air became toxic, the canaries would be affected first -- thus warning the miners of imminent danger.
With respect to the Afghanistan policy, the problem isn't that the "signaling" canaries are dropping dead. The problem is that they're too happy -- they're chirping with excessive mirth. Specifically, when Max Boot, Robert Kagan, Bill Kristol, and the Post editorial board are all excited about the policy.... well, it might be time to get out of the mine.
The difference now is we have a huge financial crisis on our hands, and there's simply no reason for us to be wasting time, money, and blood in Afghanistan anymore. The real problem is Pakistan, and will continue to be Pakistan, no matter what we do in Afghanistan.
Eventually somebody's going to come up with the observation that we're spending money rebuilding Afghanistan that we should be spending rebuilding America.