Saturday, January 14, 2006

I've been reading recently about efforts to increase the number of non-American troops in Afghanistan. Australia has agreed to augment its force there; so has NATO -- among NATO members, the Dutch, in particular, are under great pressure to send more fighters, and have just now agreed to do so. This is meant, it seems, to "free up US troops to mount a more aggressive offensive against the Taliban in the border regions."

Or, perhaps, to mount a more aggressive offensive against al-Qaeda in the border regions -- which might explain the bombing that was meant to kill Zawahiri.

In my last post I noted that the U.S. had fallen for bad intel again and had failed to kill a top terrorist leader -- but I don't want to be completely cynical about this. Maybe, just maybe, we're redoubling our efforts to capture or kill the masterminds of 9/11. That would be a good thing.

And if that's the case, maybe it took relentless criticism, approval ratings in the 30s, and the threat of losing GOP control over one or both houses of Congress to get President Bush to grope for ways he could regain the upper hand and to decide that one way might be to focus -- finally -- on al-Qaeda. If that's what's going on, then Bush's biggest supporters owe those of us who criticize him a word of thanks, for getting him to take seriously a bit of business that's been unfinished for more than four years.

After all, a year ago Bush thought he had the country in his pocket, and he'd gotten to that point without harming a hair on the heads of bin Laden and Zawahiri. But we critics didn't kowtow to Bush and his supposed mandate; we criticized him on any number of issues, and some of it stuck. He's been hurting recently, and so has his party. And maybe that put the fear of God into him.

I really don't think George W. Bush will ever get us out of Iraq, will ever reverse runaway deficits, will ever preside over a country in which the poor no longer get poorer as the rich get richer. But maybe, just maybe, he now wants the U.S. military to get bin Laden and Zawahiri, and maybe, despite his blundering mismanagement of the job of commander in chief, the military will get the job done. If that happens, perhaps it will turn out to have been a genuine response to pressure applied by free people in a democracy -- which would be a good thing.

Then again, why the hell do we have to put pressure on the president of the United States in order to get him to focus on this?


On the other hand, The U.S. is reducing the number of troops it has in Afghanistan, even as violence there increases. So maybe you should forget everything I just said.

No comments: