This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.
Big decisions are risky decisions. President Obama took the right risks at West Point on Tuesday when he outlined his plans for a troop surge in Afghanistan.
The obvious gamble is that any military venture in Afghanistan can turn out well. There’s a long history of foreign interventions coming to grief in that remote, mountainous, tribal country.
But the earlier interventions – such as the ill-fated Soviet occupation of the 1980s – were attempts to turn the country into a colony or dominion. The United States and its NATO allies aren’t trying to own Afghanistan, which means the intervention can be much more limited in its goals and duration – which in turn enhances the chances of success.
The gambles Obama chose not to take were to either abandon the country or try to get by – as the Bush administration did – with an inadequate force on the ground. The end result in both cases would be a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Taliban, whose leaders are implacably hostile to the United States, liberal democracy, Western civilization – anything but the inhuman, primitive theocracy they are trying to resurrect from the Dark Ages.
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