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Obama's Other War

U.S. casualties in Afghanistan reach peak levels. Either Obama or McCain will face the increasingly hard question of what to do about The Other War. To focus on Obama: The CW seems to hold that once we at least mostly get out of Iraq, Afghanistan will become a lot easier. But what if the opposite is true? Once Iraq is no longer the cause celebre, where do you think all the jihadis will go? I assume I don't have to tell TNR readers that bin Laden cut his teeth fighting a foreign occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s. In other words, a substantial part of our problem in Iraq may just follow us over to Central Asia.

Reporting on Obama's Iraq plan a couple months ago, I was struck by a conversation I had with a somewhat hawkish senior Democratic foreign-policy mandarin. This was the kind of guy you'd expect to argue that we must double down on Afghanistan and finally get the job done there. Instead he told me he wasn't sure that we could ever really achieve our goals there--again, see the Soviet occupation--and it might be time to start drastically lowering our expectations there.

--Michael Crowley