Joe Galloway earned his reputation as one of the great war correspondents during Vietnam. Now, writing in McClatchey Newspapers, Galloway argues the Powell Doctrine proves America shouldn't waste one more life on Afghanistan:
Gen. Colin Powell, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said these questions all must be answered with a loud YES before the United States takes military action. He listed his questions in the 1990 run-up to the Persian Gulf War, drawing heavily on the Weinberger Doctrine that was laid down by former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger during the debate over America's ends and means in Lebanon.
1. Is a vital national security interest threatened?
2. Do we have a clear, attainable objective?
3. Have the risks and costs been fully and frankly analyzed?
4. Have all non-violent policy means been exhausted?
5. Is there a plausible exit strategy to avoid endless entanglement?
6. Have all the consequences of our action been fully considered?
7. Is the action supported by the American people?
8. Do we have broad international support?
Those questions weren't asked and answered before we invaded Afghanistan late in 2001, and by the time we invaded Iraq early in 2003, then-defense secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld was declaring the Powell doctrine "outmoded" as he ran premature victory laps around a fleeting success in Afghanistan.
...It can fairly be argued that not a single affirmative answer can be given to Gen. Powell's eight questions with regard to the actions now planned or underway in Afghanistan. Had those questions been asked about Iraq in early 2003, not a single affirmative answer could have been given.
...We no longer have a vital national security interest or a clearly attainable goal in Afghanistan. Our stated goal is to deny any future sanctuary to al Qaida in Afghanistan - but al Qaida isn't based in Afghanistan and hasn't been for years.
...If you're determined to fight a war, choose a commander whom you trust and a strategy that you back, and then give your military leaders all the resources they say they need to achieve your objective.
If you can't do that, if your objective isn't clear, if the American people and the international community aren’t with you, then order a withdrawal and explain why.
Joe Galloway is no raving leftie, no doctrinaire pacifist. It's just that he's seen this senseless tragedy before and doesn't have the stomach to watch it repeated.