Charles Krauthammer: Does the president believe in his own Afghanistan strategy?

Published: Sunday, Jan. 19 2014 12:00 a.m. MST

Translation: They were never really serious about Afghanistan. (Nor apparently about Iraq either. Gates recounts with some shock that Hillary Clinton admitted she opposed the Iraq surge for political reasons, and Obama conceded that much of the opposition had indeed been political.) The Democratic mantra — Iraq War, bad; Afghan War, good — was simply a partisan device to ride anti-Bush, anti-Iraq War feeling without appearing squishy.

Look, they could say: We're just being tough and discriminating.

Iraq is a dumb war, said Obama repeatedly. It's a war of choice. Afghanistan is a war of necessity, the central front in the war on terror. Having run on that, Obama had a need to at least make a show of trying to win the good war, the smart war.

"If I had ever come to believe the military part of the strategy would not lead to success as I defined it," writes Gates. "I could not have continued signing the deployment orders." The commander in chief, Gates' book makes clear, had no such scruples.

Charles Krauthammer's email address is letters@charleskrauthammer.com.

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