In a bit of tongue-in-cheek analysis today, columnist Walter Russell Mead sees a bit of silver lining in recent bad news coming out of Afghanistan:
With the latest round of deaths, we pass a milestone: 2,000 US combatants have died in what is now the longest war in American history. The milestone has been reached just as the surge in troops has come to an end without achieving the goals of pacifying the country or even launching peace talks with the Taliban. Our Afghan “allies” remain as corrupt and ineffectual as ever, with the added wrinkle that the most dangerous place in Afghanistan for US troops these days seems to be the neighborhood of US-armed and trained Afghan forces, who are shooting and blowing up their nominal allies faster than the Taliban can do it.
This is all bad news and very disturbing, but there is a crumb of comfort to be had. Because these failures happened on President Obama’s watch, the mainstream press isn’t particularly interested in relentless, non-stop scrutiny of the unpleasant news. If George W. Bush were president now, and had ordered the surge and was responsible for the strategic decisions taken and not taken in Afghanistan over the last four years, the mainstream press would be rubbing our noses in his miserable failures and inexcusable blunders 24/7. The New York Times and the Washington Postwould be treating us to pictures of every fallen soldier. The PBS Newshour would feature nightly post-mortems on “America’s failed strategies in the Afghan War” and every arm-chair strategist in America would be filling the op-ed pages with the brilliant 20/20 hindsight ideas that our pathetic, clueless, failed president was too dumb and too cocky to have had. [...]
As it is, however, we just get the bare bones of what’s happening in Afghanistan, with no long, rolling wallows in the failure, no painstaking, step by step analysis of just how a credulous and inexperienced president ordered the military to execute a strategy which it didn’t recommend and couldn’t make work. There will be no analysis of how someone like Vice President Biden has been wrong at every twist and turn of the wars of the last ten years — though if he were Vice President Cheney every single error he had ever made would be hurled in our faces night after night.