The stakes in Afghanistan

Amotz Asa-El, in the Jerusalem Post, delivers a devastating takedown of the Obama administration, both with respect to domestic and foreign policy. According to Asa-El, these policies have two things in common: (1) for Obama, oration is “not a way to announce plans, it [is] the plan itself” and (2) just as Obama won’t ask Americans to sacrifice anything economically, he won’t ask much from the rest of the world, with the exception of Israel.
The consequences on both fronts have been alarming. At home, “the dollar plunged, joblessness rose and the prospect of stagflation seems increasingly likely.” Overseas:

Governments across the world are losing respect for the US. Turkey, which once didn’t lift a finger without America’s approval, is openly waltzing into the sunset with Syria and Iran. Iran has made a mockery of Obama’s dialogue gesture. China has made a joke of Obama personally, when it censored his very plea that Beijing ease censorship. Saudi Arabia has ignored Washington’s pleas to deliver a peace gesture. And finally, in a natural extension of all this accelerating disparagement, Hugo Chavez publicly backed Iran’s nuclear adventurism with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad alongside him in Venezuela – a three-hour flight from Miami.
All of them, from Chavez to Kim, are humiliating America because they have concluded that the decade that began with the 9/11 attacks and later saw a meltdown in Wall Street and now a military entanglement in Afghanistan is about to end with America as dwarfed as Russia was last decade.

Asa-El predicts that the product of these developments will be the revival, with or without Obama, of full-blown American isolationism.
This may, in fact, be what’s riding in Afghanistan. Success might help us regain respect and provide momentum for continued engagement with the world by Obama and (more importantly) his successor. Failure could produce a less extreme form of the isolationism Asa-El describes.

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