It can’t be said often enough that the decisions the Obama administration is facing on Afghanistan are a direct result of the Bush administration’s exceedingly poor policymaking. I think very few people believed in the winter of 2001-2002 that we’d be sitting here in the fall of 2009 talking about what strategy shifts were necessary to prevent defeat in Afghanistan. The reason very few people believed that is that most people believed the Bush administration could win. Those of us who believed that were proven wrong. So bad on us. But worse on the Bush administration! I find it mind-boggling that the architects of this disaster are so eager to offer backseat commentary on Obama’s handling of it. And yet, here’s Peter Feaver late of the NSC blogging away and Dick Cheney is giving speeches.
At any rate, this might be a good opportunity to revisit Feaver’s March 2004 Washington Post op-ed in which he said that the thing that proved Bush was a good president was his handling of Afghanistan. “Viewed in hindsight, the Bush-Rumsfeld military plan looked brilliant,” he wrote “but at the time it was highly controversial and decidedly risky.” And Bush took the risk! “Would a less stubborn commander in chief have pursued the risky war plan that ultimately toppled the Taliban and put al Qaeda on the run? The record of the ’90s suggests otherwise.”
And yet here we are over five years after that still wondering how to deal with the mess left behind by this “brilliant” war plan.