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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Undefinable

Conservatives love to banter endlessly about a variety of subjects with which they are either completely unfamiliar ( ie: climate change ) or do know just enough about to be exceedingly dangerous.

Now that Obama has delivered his strategy address to the nation, it's time for those same conservatives to run around to every show they can get booked on and distribute the latest ream of talking points. Chief of which are ones about "success".

John McCain, the Senator who has graced more Sunday morning talk-shows since the election than just about anyone ever has, has sent in a piece to Mary Katherine Ham of the Weekly Standard blog.

The title of the article ( likely written by staffers and not McCain, hence byline "form the desk of John McCain" - like it's some memo about remembering to send out your Christmas cards ) speaks about how "success" is the real exit strategy.

Success is the real exit strategy. When we have achieved our goals in Afghanistan, our troops should begin to return home with honor, but that withdrawal should be based on conditions on the ground, not arbitrary deadlines. In the days ahead, I will seek to address this and other questions I have about the President’s policy, including my continuing concern about the civilian aspect of our strategy.


The whole piece is just like that, glittering generalities that we have heard since the beginning. No real meat, just enough filler to make it look like he has some real idea, some real concept that people can get behind. But I do have one question - what is "success".

Ever since Bush dragged our attention and focus away from Afghanistan and said that Iraq is the place to be, there have been multiple definitions of what "failure" is, but no definition of "success". There really hasn't even been a final goal that could be even loosely construed as attainable shown to the American public. It's all been about failure. Every discussion from the Right has been born from the catalyst of failure.

When people like McCain hear "exit strategy" they don't realize that even if there is "success", there would still have to be a strategy on how our forces leave. Were there just going to not worry about that until this illusive and mysterious "success" just happened one day and then worry about how to bring our men and women home? I wouldn't put that past them.

What we need to be asking our elected officials is simple - tell us what "success" in Afghanistan is, and be specific.

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