Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Limits of Distraction

President Obama defends our progress in Afghanistan and calculates pretty close to what I did the time frame that the Taliban in Afghanistan started to get the better of us:

"I would dispute the notion that it's not getting better. I do think that what we've seen is a blunting of the momentum of the Taliban which had been building up in the year prior to me taking office," Obama said.

So the president judges that it was in 2008 that the enemy started making gains.

I've judged that it was that year--or maybe sometime in 2007--that we could say that.

My timeline was based on the fact that we pretty much beat al Qaeda in Iraq in 2007 during the surge, and so al Qaeda switched emphasis to Afghanistan. Also, the Taliban in Pakistan managed to set up a good deal inside Pakistan by 2006, eventually complicating our efforts in Afghanistan.

Which means, of course, that Iraq did not "distract" us from winning in Afghanistan. We were doing fine in Afghanistan through 2008 according to the president, but possibly only sometime in 2007 if you ask me. At worst, you can argue that we were delayed in reinforcing Afghanistan by perhaps a year because of Iraq. But since it looked like a win was coming in Iraq by the end of 2007, we didn't take extraordinary measures to bolster Afghanistan before reductions in Iraq could ease that path. If the situation in Afghanistan was that bad, we could have done something sooner.

Of course, as a funny aside, the anti-war side's protest of President Obama's fall 2009 decision to escalate pretty much defines how much they thought we were distracted, even if you accept that we were.

The Left knows little of warfare. They proved that in Iraq. Don't let them prove it again in Afghanistan.