Ivan Eland: The problem is that the U.S. goal in Afghanistan—although President Obama has reduced it from George W. Bush’s instituting democracy to merely stabilizing the country—is still too ambitious.
Ivan Eland: Although Bush can’t change his domestic catastrophes, such as the federal response to Hurricane Katrina or the horrendous financial crisis and the $700 billion Wall Street bailout, if Iraq and Afghanistan eventually reach some stability, he may be regarded as the man who threw out the despotic regimes of Saddam Hussein and the Taliban.
Ivan Eland: If it weren’t for the latest salacious bureau-gossip, the book would be rather boring—and tragic. Boring, not because the issues are uninteresting or because Woodward is a bad writer, but because the author records a dysfunctional White House internal decision-making process in which meeting after meeting features the same reasonable questions about the U.S. war in Afghanistan but in which nobody ever has very good answers to them.
Ivan Eland: Although David Petraeus, the top American commander in Afghanistan, recently peddled the notion that senior Taliban chieftains had made contact with senior Afghan government officials about the possibility of starting reconciliation talks, such talk of peace in our time is likely to be hype.