Editorial voices from elsewhere
Afghanistan is littered with the bones of soldiers from foreign countries. During the past 12 years, the blood of American soldiers has mingled in Afghanistan’s soil with the 19th-century blood of British Redcoats and 20th-century blood from what was then the Soviet’s Union’s Red Army. Others will likely fight and die there in the future.
That is the history of Afghanistan. Some would say that is its nature. It is hard to know whether peace talks with the Taliban will change anything.
Unfortunately, President Barack Obama tipped his hand and set a deadline for the withdrawal of American troops. Hardened resistance fighters who have battled a better equipped, better trained foe for more than a decade now know that they can simply wait it out. They can buy time with negotiations and cease fires until the Americans, British and other allies leave the Afghans to fend for themselves.
Is the Taliban genuinely interested in a political solution after so many years of war? Or are they simply buying time? We suspect the latter. It’s very hard to tell.
Michael O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institution said American should approach talks with “low expectations.” He believes the Taliban “expect to win the war once NATO is largely gone in 2015.”
There was a time when journalism professors cautioned their students against what they then called “Afghanistanism.” ...
Americans turned away from the backward distant land once their mortal enemy was gone. Little did they know that in the not too distant future, they would return to fight and, ironically, their enemy would be some of the same people they supported against the Soviets.
In the years between the Soviet departure and the American invasion, the Taliban came to power, running the country like a medieval oligarchy. Our purpose was to strike back at those who attacked us on our own soil and make our homeland safe.
Without a doubt, the blood spilled on Afghan soil helped eliminate a threat to our homeland. While the battle has raged, Americans have lived in relative security. Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden in neighboring Pakistan. The threat from al-Qaida appears greatly reduced.
But is the job done? That’s a question that only the future can answer. For now, we’ve decided to go home. Hopefully, we’ll never need to return.
President Obama’s omnibus proposal to combat global warming addresses the issue in all its many facets – truck emissions, high-level diplomacy, more federal land for solar and wind projects. Think of it as a target covered with water balloons. The president won’t be able to keep all of them from bursting as his opponents in Congress and industry start throwing darts. The key is to not let them hit the bull’s eye: new emissions standards for coal-fired plants.
Power plants produce a third of all the greenhouse gases in the country, and coal plants are the biggest offenders. If the nation can drastically reduce the plants’ carbon footprint, it will significantly reduce emissions that contribute to warming. And there’s a lot more in Obama’s aggressive push against climate change, including an overdue effort to help states and municipalities cope with the effects of warming that already are being seen and that are expected to worsen for the next few decades because of past inaction: fires, flooding and catastrophic weather.
The president’s opponents already are complaining that the technology isn’t in place for capturing carbon from power plant emissions and that developing it will be costly. ...
The United States is still a couple of years away from actual regulations, and lawsuits and political battles will almost certainly delay if not derail many of them. The president should keep his eye on the centerpiece. Just as the nation cannot afford to humor climate-change deniers, it cannot allow the carbon output of its worst greenhouse gas emitters to continue unchecked.