Two Winnable Wars

A longtime skeptic says it'll take a major U.S. effort, but it's doable. What do Obama and Clinton think?

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That's what Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies calls Iraq and Afghanistan in an opinion article in Sunday's Washington Post. Cordesman has long been a skeptic about the possibilities for success in Iraq and has been quoted on occasion by those who argue we should withdraw posthaste. In this article, he recommends the opposite—and in the strongest terms. Key passages:

What the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan have in common is that it will take a major and consistent U.S. effort throughout the next administration at least to win either war. Any American political debate that ignores or denies the fact that these are long wars is dishonest and will ensure defeat....

If the next president, Congress and the American people cannot face this reality, we will lose. Years of false promises about the speed with which we can create effective army, police and criminal justice capabilities in Iraq and Afghanistan cannot disguise the fact that mature, effective local forces and structures will not be available until 2012 and probably well beyond. This does not mean that U.S. and allied force levels cannot be cut over time, but a serious military and advisory presence will probably be needed for at least that long, and rushed reductions in forces or providing inadequate forces will lead to a collapse at the military level.

It is true that many Democratic primary voters and caucusgoers are slavering at the prospect of American defeat. They want to see us lose. Cordesman, no fan of George W. Bush, to say the least, wants to see us win. Someone needs to cite Cordesman's article and conclusions and ask Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton which side they're on.