It’s Groundhog Day in Washington, with the pundit class again crying that an American war is unwinnable, even as the U.S. military says: “No, it’s not!” and “Yes we can!”
The pundits, the chattering classes and the Beltway elite are all worried about Afghanistan. They think the war’s a hopeless cause, a “quagmire,” and, most damning of all in their minds, “Vietnam all over again.” But the new commanding general of U.S. Central Command, General James N. Mattis, says these worrywarts are all wrong about Afghanistan.
Of course, the fretting of the chattering class is nothing new. It’s even typical and old-hat. The nattering nabobs of negativism, as the late great William Safire once dubbed them, are always worried that a war or a conflict will become too much for the American people to bear.
They were saying much the same thing, remember, about Afghanistan back in 2001, before the U.S. military successfully toppled the Taliban. It could not be done, they cried, absent a “quagmire.”
And in 2006 and 2007, the effete pundits again manned the barricades to tell us that Iraq was a hopeless and doomed cause. It took two relatively unknown generals named Petraeus and Odierno to prove these “experts” wrong.
Yet, Newt Gingrich seems to agree with these defeatists: The war in Afghanistan “is not going to end well,” Newt told a gathering in Iowa.
You’re dealing with [an] Afghan culture that is fundamentally different than us, in ways we don’t understand. We are in enormous danger because we consistently underestimate how hard this is.
Newt is right: Winning in Afghanistan will be hard and it will take a while — many years and perhaps a decade or more. But before we start wringing our hands and throwing up the white flag of surrender, we’d do well to consider what our military personnel on the ground think. After all, they’re in the best position to know whether Afghanistan is winnable or not.