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Time to leave Afghanistan?
Conservative columnist George Will ignites a debate by saying the U.S. can't afford to rebuild a weak nation
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t's time to get out of Afghanistan, said George Will in The Washington Post. Even increasing U.S. troop strength from 21,000 to 68,000 would leave the coalition far short of what it needs to defeat an entrenched insurgency. Instead, "America should do only what can be done from offshore, using intelligence, drones, cruise missiles, airstrikes and small, potent Special Forces units, concentrating on the porous 1,500-mile border with Pakistan, a nation that actually matters."

This is no time to "wave the bloody shirt," said Frederick W. Kagan in National Review. The only way for George Will to make the claim that the coalition can't win is by "rudely disparaging" the contributions of the British, the Afghan security forces, and our other coalition partners. "The surge of forces that some (including me) are proposing" will simultaneously hurt the insurgency and bridge the gap to a time when Afghan government forces can do more on their own.

Will's prescription was bound to anger the "national security wing of the Republican Party," said Marc Ambinder in The Atlantic, especially as it comes as the U.S. commander, Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, asks for more troops to turn around the war. The question is whether a fiscal conservative like Will can get people to buy his argument that nation-building is implausible, and that even trying is unaffordable. "After five years of Democrats calling for an end to operations in Iraq, I guess we've come full circle."

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