Tuesday, March 10, 2009

March 10, 1984...

... which is what today feels like, since somebody--either President Obama or General McKiernan--is arguing that "not winning" means something different than "losing."

From the NYT:

PARIS — As the United States prepares to commit 17,000 more troops to Afghanistan, the commander of NATO and American forces there said on Monday that the coalition was “not winning” the war against the resurgent Taliban in parts of the country.

Gen. David D. McKiernan’s assessment echoed that of President Obama who said in an interview that the United States was not winning the Afghan war and who raised the possibility of the American military reaching out to moderate elements of the Taliban, much as it did with Sunni militias in Iraq.

In an interview published in the French newspaper Le Figaro on Monday, the French foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, took the idea further, saying the West should accept a pro-Taliban leadership if Afghans choose such an administration in elections set for next August.

“In Afghanistan, there will not be an exclusively military solution,” he said, adding: “We should accept the result of the forthcoming elections whatever it is.”

He said there was “no question” of making Afghanistan a Western-style democracy.

“If nationalist-minded Taliban come to power through the ballot-box and respect the constitution, that is the Afghans’ business,” he said. “What we reject is support for international jihad,” he said, using an Arabic term meaning struggle or holy war.

It is an impressive feat of NewSpeak to define "not winning" as something else than "losing" [I intend to try this line this evening at halftime if my daughter's basketball team is "not winning" their tournament game. I know it will make them all feel better.]

This is the definition of losing: We entered Afghanistan and deposed the Taliban for supporting Al Qaeda and also cloaked ourselves in the mantle of saving people (women, children, people like that) from a brutal regime that we believed had no broad public support. Now we are holding elections and it appears that "moderate" elements of the government we deposed may win at the ballot box. Moreover, Al Qaeda's strongholds in the mountains of Afghanistant and the Pakistani tribal areas are essentially untouched. This would be, as near as I can tell, the definition of losing.

It is apparently also the defintion of not winning.

I'm confused--or confuzzled as my son would say.

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