[I]f McChrystal is right, he is strategizing Afghanistan as a semi-permanent protectorate for the US. This is empire in the 21st century sense: occupying failed states indefinitely to prevent even more chaos spinning out of them. And it has the embedded logic of all empires: if it doesn't keep expanding, it will collapse. The logic of McChrystal is that the US should be occupying Pakistan as well. And Somalia. And anywhere al Qaeda make seek refuge.Why the leak? There are those who say (Len Colodny) that former naval intelligence officer Woodward functions in a, shall we say, quasi-official manner when reporting about military and intelligence affairs. Whether or not that's true, by making the 66-page report available to Woodward, someone at the Pentagon, at a top level and perhaps even with the White House's acquiescence, seems to have signaled that it's time to bail. As Woodward writes:
In the end, Gulliver cannot move. And his pockets are empty. Whom does that deter?
[McChrystal] plan could intensify a national debate in which leading Democratic lawmakers have expressed reluctance about committing more troops to an increasingly unpopular war. Obama said last week that he will not decide whether to send more troops until he has "absolute clarity about what the strategy is going to be."However this morning's Washington Post story happened -- hustled-for leak or Pentagon press release -- it's a salutary development. The military mind understands better than most the perils of trying to accomplish in Afghanistan in the 21st century what the British and Russians could not in the 19th and 20th -- especially when there are better ways to battle al-Qaeda's shifting target. Let's not do the enemy the favor of getting bogged down yet again. Come home, America, from Kabul, at least.