I've published two posts in quick succession here, which I rarely do, and readers will find a post I think is of unusual interest just previous to this post.
Nothing would be so convincing, now that we have eliminated our public enemy #1, and fulfilled our public reason for coming to Afghanistan, than to follow through on our initial public rationale for the war, and exit.
Talking about exiting would do far more for our fight against Al Qaeda than most any military action, especially now. It would greatly increase our credibility by showing integrity in our policy, and move us away from the colors of only a power-hungry empire.
Al Qaeda is not a physical organization, or a set of people. It is a set of ideas. Even though bin Laden is symbolic, as its leader in spirit, those ideas that are al Qaeda will continue until better ideas defeat them.
You cannot win a war of ideals and ideas with physical force.
This is a war between ideas, and will be won only by superior ideas.
This is our best chance to change course towards a cleaner exit.
Instead of Empire, we could have the rhetoric of an Ideal nation, which is a far better thing to be, and to receive the consequences of from true believers. Empires are justly fought against. Ideal nations are much harder to fight against. Those who fight against Ideal nations are more criminal than idealistic. It is a crucial distinction to the long-term consequences of this war.
Which would you rather be -- admired or feared and hated?
We needn't abandon every piece our current plans. We need to change much of our plans and especially we need to talk a different talk. We should begin some very visible changes in actions and diplomatic rhetoric. Now.