In the Grope & Flail today Lawrence Martin writes column (behind firewall, sigh) that suggests that an earlier withdrawal from Afghanistan is akin to settling for a bronze medal instead of going for the gold. Of all the stupid metaphors for military action this is one of the worst. Martin first of all insults Canada as a country that settles for second-rate accomplishments – or at least repeats John Manley’s insinuation of the same. Then Martin goes on to suggests that staying in Afghanistan as long as Hillier wants is akin to going for a gold medal.
At a certain point discretion is the better part of valour – any military leader, hell, any poker player, will tell you that. At a certain point you need to realize that you can’t do any more good by staying in too long. The question is not whether we could we muster the will and the resources to stay a long time, I’m sure that we could – if we thought this whole enterprise would work. The question is, will it do any good in the long term? We have an Afghan government that is composed in no small part of people who were warlords – just not Taliban warlords. We are trying to change a society that has rejected one occupying army after another. Overstaying our welcome doesn’t deserve a gold medal. Please work on finding less stupid metaphors.