In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review June 24, 2011 22 Sivan, 5771

Leaving Afghanistan Not Quick, Not Easy

By Roger Simon

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Afghanistan has always been our "forgotten war," and President Obama reminded us Wednesday night why we want to forget it.

It has cost us more than 1,500 combat deaths and hundreds of billions of dollars. And what do we have to show for it?

Actually, a lot in one respect: Al-Qaida, which launched the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on America, has been largely pushed out of Afghanistan into Pakistan, with its leadership, including Osama bin Laden, shattered.

But in another respect, 10 years of fighting, spending and dying have produced a corrupt, ineffective and unloved Afghan government, an untested and untrusted Afghan army, and a country that sometimes seems more intent on producing opium — 92 percent of the world's supply still comes from Afghanistan — than on producing genuine democracy.

But there is reason for hope. So says our president.

"Tonight, we take comfort in knowing that the tide of war is receding," Obama said in a nationally televised address from the White House. "And even as there will be dark days ahead in Afghanistan, the light of a secure peace can be seen in the distance."

That last phrase is a little close to Gen. William Westmoreland's famous 1968 statement that there was "light at the end of the tunnel" in Vietnam. And there was. But it was on a freight train. The U.S. military would not pull out until August 1973, after Congress refused more funding, and Saigon fell in April 1975.

But at least Obama didn't say "mission accomplished." Quite the opposite, in fact. And what about those "dark days" that Obama says are ahead of us in Afghanistan? What dark days? Wasn't this supposed to be a speech on how the war in Afghanistan is winding down?

Which is why some in the White House didn't want the president to deliver the speech at all. They thought the upside — some 33,000 troops pulling out, bin Laden still dead — did not outweigh the downside: a majority of troops still staying, still fighting, still dying.

At about a dozen minutes, it was certainly Obama's shortest speech to the nation, but why did he give it at all?

First, there is a presidential election getting underway. And as Republican candidates stake out every position from stay and fight for as long as it takes to all U.S. forces out immediately, Obama needed to stake out what he views as the sensible middle ground.

Second, he had to assure the American people that he feels their pain when it comes to the hideous expense of America's wars. Afghanistan is costing us an incredible $10 billion per month, Iraq will still cost us a mind-boggling $51.1 billion in war-related costs in fiscal 2011 — hey, wasn't that war supposed to be over? — and with the war in Libya costing us, according to Pentagon estimates, $600 million in its first week alone, Americans have a right to ask who is in charge of the store.

The name of U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan and almost certainly the next CIA director, did not come up in Obama's speech. And there is some disagreement, based on which unidentified White House officials you believe, over whether Petraeus has signed off on the troop withdrawal timetable.

A senior administration official, briefing reporters by phone before Obama's speech, said: "Gen. Petraeus presented the president with a range of options for pursuing this drawdown. The president's decision was fully within the range of options that were presented to him."

But The New York Times reported: "Two administration officials said General Petraeus did not endorse the decision ... ."

So take your pick. Or maybe the White House wants us to believe both versions.

In a sense, it does not matter. The generals work for Obama, not the other way around. Which is why the speech was also intensely political. Afghanistan is Obama's war now, and he wants to make sure people know he is trying to end it.

"Yes, the American people are war-weary," outgoing Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told Newsweek. "Look, 10 years in Afghanistan is almost twice as long as any modern war we've been in."

Which is why the one, great takeaway line of Wednesday night's speech had the fingerprints of Obama's pollsters, political team and his own survival instincts all over it.

"It is time," Obama said, "to focus on nation-building here at home."

Past time, some might say.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washington and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Comment on Roger Simon's column by clicking here.

Roger Simon Archives

© 2009, Creators Syndicate