Brilliant Democratic senate strategists, who have thus far failed to bring about a U.S. defeat in Iraq in spite of all their efforts, have a new plan. More accurately it's a new talking point.
A series of questioners put on the airs of grand strategic sophisticates to remind Petraeus that whereas his brief includes only Iraq, theirs covers the entire world--and from their viewpoint, the fight that matters is not the one that Petraeus and Crocker and their subordinates are winning in Iraq, but the one in the "Afghan-Pakistan border region," as it was so often called. Petraeus and Crocker pointed out repeatedly and accurately that al Qaeda's leaders themselves continually refer to Iraq as the central front in their war against us, but to no avail. The real fight, they were told each time, is in the Afghan-Pakistan border region against the real al Qaeda that the Intelligence Community says has only grown stronger. And, the general and the ambassador were lectured, keeping too many troops in Iraq was preventing the United States from prevailing in this more important fight.
All that Democratic bluster might lead one the think there is some will to win the fight against al Qaeda on that side of the aisle. One would be mistaken. In fact, there are some things the Senate can do to help in Afghanistan. Oddly enough, the Senate would rather not help.
To the question, "Is there really nothing we can do unless we send more troops?" the answer is unequivocally that there is something we can do. Congress can do it, in fact, and very quickly. Pass the supplemental defense appropriation that would allow development money to flow reliably to our soldiers in Afghanistan as well as Iraq. The advantage of Afghanistan's poverty (for us) is that a little money goes a long way. American soldiers have increasingly been leveraging development funds to starve the insurgency of recruits in a way similar to what has worked in Iraq (but tailored appropriately to conditions in Afghanistan). They need more money. One of the problems the British face in the south of the country is that their government does not give their soldiers development money to spend. We should find ways to help them out. Congress could do all of this with one roll-call vote in each house, and the aid would start flowing to Afghanistan faster than any additional brigades could arrive. American soldiers in Iraq often say that dollars are their best bullets--the same is true in Afghanistan.
Democratic Senators prefer to delay action on the supplemental defense appropriation. They still hope to force a withdrawal from Iraq. There is a will to win among them. Unfortunately, an American victory in Iraq is not a win for them. Quite the opposite. And Senate Democrats work towards a victory of their own.