Obama, Tell Me How this Ends

December 23, 2009

by Andrew J. Bacevich

On the march to Baghdad, back when America's war on terror was young, a rising star in the United States military lobbed this enigmatic bon mot to an accommodating reporter: "Tell me how this ends." Thus did then-Maj. Gen. David Petraeus in 2003 neatly frame the issue that still today haunts the U.S.-led effort to defeat violent anti-Western jihadism.

To know how something ends implies knowing where it's going. Yet eight years after it began, the war on terror is headed back to where it started. The prequel is the sequel, Afghanistan replacing Iraq as the once and now once again central front.

So are we making progress? Even as President Obama escalates the war in Afghanistan, that question hangs in the air, ignored by all. Rather than explaining how the struggle will end, the President merely affirms that it must continue, his eye fixed on pacifying a country of which his own secretary of state recently remarked "We have no long-term stake there."

(Continue reading)

This article appeared in the New York Daily News, December 23, 2009, and is available in its entirety online.


Andrew J. Bacevich is professor of history and international relations at Boston University and a member of the Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy.

Posted by coalition at December 23, 2009 08:59 AM

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