The Missing Debate on Afghanistan - Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal opinion.
All in. All out. Double down. Withdraw. The language of the Afghanistan debate is stark, as seem the choices. But at least the debate has begun, forced by the blunt recent comments of Gen. Stanley McChrystal. It is overdue. At the very least, less than a full airing of all the facts, realities, challenges and possibilities in that region shows insufficient respect and gratitude toward those we've put in harm's way. Nobody, really, is certain what to do, or wherein lies wisdom. It isn't a choice between right and wrong or "clearly smart" versus "obviously stupid" so much as a choice between two hells, or more than two.
The hell of withdrawal is what kind of drama would fill the vacuum, who would re-emerge, who would be empowered, what Pakistan would look like with a newly redrawn reality in the neighborhood, what tremors would shake the ground there as the US troops march out. It is the hell of a great nation that had made a commitment in retreat, abandoning not only its investment of blood and treasure but those on the ground, and elsewhere, who had one way or another cast their lot with us. It would involve the hell, too, of a UN commitment, an allied commitment, deflated to the point of collapse.
The hell of staying is equally clear, and vivid: more loss of American and allied troops, more damage to men and resources, an American national debate that would be a continuing wound and possibly a debilitating one, an overstretched military given no relief and in fact stretched thinner, a huge and continuing financial cost in a time when our economy is low. There is no particular guarantee of, or even completely persuasive definition of, success. And Pakistan may blow anyway. The debate is over which hell is less damaging in the long term, which hell is more livable...
More at The Wall Street Journal.