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01 November 2001

Judging the Anti-Terror Effort

In recent days, I've grown increasingly annoyed at various "experts" (mainly on the right) who have been criticizing the U.S. anti-terror effort, contending that the operation in Afghanistan is indecisive (here and here and here) or that we need to increase the bombing effort (here) or that we need to send in significant quantities of ground troops (here).

I have been bothered mainly because most of us just don't have enough information about what is going on strategically (not to mention the strategic and tactical goals) to be able to evaluate success or failure three weeks into the effort in Afghanistan let alone to offer suggestions, but I haven't been able to articulate my objections very well. An earlier email exchange with my friend John Vaughn finally brought me clarity. Mr. Vaughn rightly notes that ultimately, we should be paying attention to the public statements of the Bush Administration (particularly the emerging Bush Doctrine), and rather than evaluating the anti-terror effort daily, with incomplete information, we instead are going to have to wait and see if the military strategy ultimately achieves the political objectives laid out by the administration. We aren't going to know in three weeks -- but we should have a pretty good idea when we go to the presidential polls in three years. I think that's a great way to look at things.

Of course, part of the fun of having an opinion site that covers politics is speculating on such matters. I have tried not to play armchair general (and in fact, think Bill Kristol, the man who recommended that Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz resign, and John McCain, who still cannot believe he lost to Bush in the primaries, look opportunistic -- not to mention silly -- in criticizing Bush), but I have done my share of speculation on the political side of things. And I just can't resist occasional potshots at Robert McNamara, not to mention the Clinton foreign policy team, and even Colin Powell -- I get to have a little fun here!

But for now, I think I'll leave the warfighting to the professionals. That being said, here's some fodder for thought.

[Posted @ 12:04 AM CST]

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