Thomas Paine, during the Revolutionary War, argued in The Crisis that there are serious moments in the life of a country when “to deceive is to destroy; and it is of little consequence, in the conclusion, whether men deceive themselves, or submit, by a kind of mutual consent, to the impositions of each other.”
We are at such a moment in this forlorn war in Afghanistan. Only self-deception can justify the continued sacrifice of our young men and women in uniform. Given the two presidents in command and their irreversible dispositions toward this war and each other, failure is virtually inevitable.
George Will reached this glum terminus last year. And I feel their pain, the Blankleys and Wills of the world. I only object that their bracing realism about staying in Afghanistan is married to a willful ignorance about what happens if we leave. Predator missions and a la carte commando raids won't cut it. The case for leaving Afghanistan turns on a tough, tough truth about what will happen after we're gone -- and the limits of what we'll be able to do about it.