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Afghanistan: The Endurance Argument

In his Senate floor statement yesterday, Republican leader Mitch McConnell had this to say:

For the sake of our long-term security, we should support the McChrystal Plan. Anything less would confirm Al Qaeda’s view that America lacks the strength and the resolve to endure a long war. We’ve proved them wrong before. Let’s prove them wrong again.

I've blogged previously about the line of thinking which says we must defeat al Qaeda in Afghanistan basically to show that we can. I think it's more influential at high leves than people realize. There is one iteration of this argument, recently made by Bruce Riedel, which is at least defensible: that American withdrawal would be a moral victory for al Qaeda and other Islamic extremists with dangerous reverberations.

But that's not even what McConnell's arguing here. He's simply saying that America has to show it can endure a long war. Never mind that, by McConnell's own admission, we've just done exactly that--in Iraq. (This is obviously not the same America that fled from Beirut in 1983 and Somalia in 1993.) The question for the senator from Kentucky should be: How many lives is it worth losing to prove this point again?