First, the Long War may be long, but it should not get any bigger. The regime-change approach -- invade and occupy to transform -- hasn't worked; simply trying harder in some other venue (Somalia? Sudan?) won't produce different results. In short, no more Iraqs.
Second, forget the Bush Doctrine of preventive war: no more wars of choice; henceforth only wars of necessity. The United States will use force only as a last resort and even then only when genuinely vital interests are at stake.
Third, no more crusades unless the American people buy in; expecting a relative handful of soldiers to carry the load while the rest of the country binges on consumption is unconscionable. At a minimum, the generation that opts for war should pay for it through higher taxes rather than foisting a burden of debt onto their grandchildren.
Fourth, the key to keeping America safe is to defend it, not to project American muscle to obscure places around the world. It may or may not be true that a "mighty fortress is our God"; had the United States been a mighty fortress on 9/11, however, the 19 hijackers would have gotten nowhere.
Fifth, by all means let the United States promote the spread of freedom and democracy. Yet we're more likely to enjoy success by modeling freedom rather than trying to impose it. To provide a suitable model, we've considerable work to do here at home. Meanwhile, let's not deny others the prerogative of defining for themselves exactly what it means to be free.
According to the July 3 Cleveland Plain Dealer, President Barack Obama said something very interesting last week. He told the AP that he has “a very narrow definition of success when it comes to our national security interests” in Afghanistan. “And that is that al-Qa’ida and its affiliates cannot set up safe havens from which to attack Americans.”
Well. If his words were reported accurately and he really means them, President Obama may have built the golden bridge we need to get out. That definition of success may be attainable.
But here’s the rub. Adoption of a realistic strategic goal in Afghanistan means reversing a decision the administration reportedly made last March, at Hillary’s insistence. Hillary demanded, and reportedly got, a commitment to the opium dream of a “secular, democratic, peaceful” Afghanistan.
Has President Obama already figured out he was had by the Clintons? Will he dare assert his authority over Hillary? How long will he stick to his guns when the Clintons ramp up a guerilla campaign against him among Democratic activists?
As I said in my last column, problems in court politics are often more difficult than problems on the battlefield. Dumping the Clinton’s dreamy-eyed idealism in foreign policy in favor of realistic strategic objectives promises a battle royal at court. Of course, Obama may have just been musing aloud, in which case Hillary will soon set the record straight. But if the President really meant what he said and sticks to it, it would represent a major step forward.