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Rebuilding Afghanistan

The Washington Post quotes a "senior Democratic Congressional aide" commenting on the United States' failure to help establish a stable government in post-Taliban Afghanistan:

"There is a real concern that the administration is seizing defeat from the jaws of victory."

The situation in Afghanistan is one where the political machinery really hurts. Politically, Bush is probably damned either way — "nation-building" is expensive; and you get but little credit for preventing disasters, and all the blame for sticking the taxpayers with the check. So — politically speaking — your best bet is to expend as little political capital as you can to keep things from deteriorating so far that you're blamed for it.

Which, of course, makes no sense for either Afghanistan's or America's long-term future. But, absent a president who can create support for a grander vision, that's the way the political system works.

May 22, 2002 1:21 AM

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