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Biden’s Afghanistan Debrief

As long as we’re talking about the right way forward in Afghanistan, take a look at the pool report from Vice President-elect Joe Biden’s return from his South Asia trip. There’s not a whole lot in here, but the stuff that’s in here is, at the least, pungent:

[Biden] said there is going to be “a significant shift” in Afghanistan. After six years of war, “It has not gotten better,” he said.

“Things are going to get tougher in Afghanistan before they get better,” Biden said.

“Pakistan’s position on Afghanistan is going to affect our ability to succeed,” he said.

A quick note on the get-worse-before-it-gets-better line. On the one hand, that’s probably a sober view of the war’s fortunes after seven-plus years. But on the other, what the public is going to need to hear from the Obama administration is why it should believe that it’ll get better, especially with a greater troop commitment envisioned. Uneasiness about that prospect is what you heard from Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) at Hillary Rodham Clinton’s confirmation hearing yesterday. It’s extremely hard to ask the country to give more blood and treasure for a war that lacks a clear and achievable strategy. No amount of “significant shift” can be complete without that.

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