David Petraeus may be a bigger hero than most of us realize.
Here’s a guy who doesn’t just salute and say, “Yessir!” when called upon by his commander-in-chief, but he does so knowing there’s a good chance that in the end, he may be associated with the failure of the longest war in our history.
When you listen to all the supporters of the President’s Afghanistan policy, there appears to be a lot of wishful thinking involving the Afghan “police” suddenly identifying themselves as Afghans (instead of Pashtuns or Tajiks or whatever), and Hamid Karzai experiencing a spiritual conversion wherein the scales fall from his eyes and he emerges reborn as an enlightened Jeffersonian democrat.
I’m guessing that after the November mid-term elections, the White House will begin a gradual campaign to prepare the American people for failure, and come August of 2011, the nominal date for the beginning of the pullout, we will have been reasonably convinced that the fabled “conditions on the ground” have developed to a point where we can extricate ourselves with something approximating honor.
While reason would indicate that we might as well abandon our effort now as a year from now, politics does not. Obama cannot afford to be known as the man who “lost Afghanistan,” which is the way he would be cynically portrayed by those who secretly agree the situation is hopeless, but would hasten to profit in the short run from that very hopelessness.
It will be up to General Petraeus, the most respected man in uniform, to tell us that we did our best, and that we’re leaving the place better than we found it.
And for that, he’ll deserve yet another ribbon on that chestful of fruit salad.