Here’s a sentence I thought I would never, ever write: I agree with George Will.
We never should have invaded Iraq. We went there on a lie and too many brave young men and women as well as tens of thousands of civilians have died as a result. Staying longer will only delay the inevitable chaos that will ensue whenever our troops finally leave. It’s time to go.
In Afghanistan, we had a proper motive—to capture or kill the perpetrators of the 9/11 atrocities and depose the vile Taliban government that protected them. But the Bush administration botched the job. Eight years later, Osama Bin Laden is still at large and the Taliban and its allies has not been vanquished—or even banished.
Eight years on, the war has become a loser. Yet Defense Secretary Bob Gates and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff Adm. Mike Mullen may soon ask for even more soldiers. Instead of upping the ante by dispatching even more troops into this quagmire, Obama should pull them out immediately. We can’t stabilize Afghanistan. Outsiders have been trying and failing to do that since Alexander the Great. We might have had a shot at it if we had sent enough men and spent enough blood and treasure at the onset of the war. But it’s too late now. The U.S. is exhausted and broke and probably not any safer than we were when the invasion started.
The truth is that these two wars are, like the broken economy, legacies of the most inept, dishonest and corrupt government in our recent history. Unraveling the stinking pile of problems he inherited will force Barack Obama to make ugly, unpleasant choices that make him a target for heavy criticism from the right.
It may be of some comfort to the President to know that George Will, his exact ideological opposite, is being subjected to attacks from his fellow right wingers as nasty as those they have aimed against Obama himself.
I hope Will stands his ground and that his conversion signals the start of a decisive swing in public opinion about these conflicts. As Freda Payne sang during the Vietnam War, it’s time to bring the boys—and girls—back home. Afghanistan and Iraq are not worth another American life.
is a former columnist for TIME magazine and a regular contributor to The Root.