President Barack Obama is right about one thing: The American people are weary of war. They are weary of an Afghan war that began righteously, in pursuit of the evil-doers who plotted the 9/11 terrorist assault, but whose capital was frittered away with the sideshow of unnecessary war in Iraq. They’re weary of a war that is itself now a sideshow to the Taliban’s rise, abetted by new terrorist havens in Pakistan.
More than a decade after 9/11, the downside of waging an endless, worldwide, 24/7 “war on terror” is sinking in. Nonstop war has sapped our resources and the resilience of our armed forces.
So one can’t fault the president for trying to put the best face on his latest plan: an orderly retreat from these frustrating, costly wars.
Nor is it a bad plan. …
But Obama is wrong to oversimplify the dangers and the mess that still exist. We’re bidding well to repeat the error of 1989, when America walked away and left Afghanistan to descend into chaos, with Osama bin Laden the beneficiary. Americans may be weary, but the stakes, in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the region, remain frighteningly high.
The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio (May 6)