Saturday, July 17, 2010

There is no Plan B

If you are not a regular viewer of The Rachel Maddow Show, you’ve been missing some of the best reporting from Afghanistan. Ms. Maddow and her production crew recently spent several days there interviewing American and Afghani security forces, and documented the conditions inside and outside the areas of combat. No hyperbole, just facts from those who are on the ground in this unfortunate area of the world.

Ms. Maddow’s reporting included this long (9 minute) but important commentary on why we are there, what has changed in our goals and strategy over the decade that American troops have been giving their lives and limbs for this cause, and the outlook for the future. Yes, Ms. Maddow is a partisan pundit, but unlike those on other networks, she sticks to facts and eschews sensationalism. This video, and the rest of her excellent reporting from Afghanistan, are worth the time to watch.

I will be very disappointed if Ms. Maddow's work does not win a Pulitzer Prize or an Emmy.


  1. Rachel's clearly not buying this antique Déjà Vu counter-insurgency war. Neither am I

  2. Rachel Maddow frames the issue correctly. There is a national security stake in this war, but if the war cannot be won there is no point in pursuing it. It is useful to note that this is at its basis a conservative argument - there are limits to what our government can accomplish, and exceeding those limits generally leads to bad results. It is unfortunate that liberals tend to limit such skepticism to military issues.

    There are a number of conservative pundits who have asked the same questions as Maddow, and concluded that we should get out. For one example (by no means the only one), check out Tony Blankley's recent columns at

    This is one case where conservatives are even more skeptical than liberals, because in addition to the basic question of whether the war is winnable, we also question Obama's commitment and competence to win this war. He painted himself in a corner by arguing during the campaign that Iraq was the bad war, and Afghanistan is the good one. His ambivalence is clear, he announced a surge and an exit date at the same time. His administration has since attempted the difficult task of spinning this exit date as a commitment to the left wing of his party, and as a flexible guideline to the rest of us.

    I still support the war, because I believe a positive result is still bot possible and important, but I am not at all sure of it. Perhaps this is the only example of an issue in which Obama has brought the left and the right together.