MEANWHILE IN AFGHANISTAN....

MEANWHILE IN AFGHANISTAN. I've avoided commenting on the apparently deteriorating situation in Afghanistan because I don't understand the dynamics over there very well, but it is worth noting that the situation certainly does seem to be getting bad: "Suspected Taliban guerrillas in the southern province of Helmand ambushed and killed 32 people on Sunday, all of them relatives and tribesmen of an influential member of Parliament, among them a former local government official, the legislator said Monday."

The obvious point to make about all this was that there was almost certainly a significant cost to our Afghanistan policy involved in taking our eyes off the ball and shifting attention to Iraq. In part, this is just a question of force size. But it's also a question of money. We've spent a phenomenal amount of cash on the Iraq War -- far, far, far more than anyone would ever have contemplated spending on Afghanistan. And having tons and tons of money to throw around makes pretty much any situation easier to cope with. Most important of all, though, is just the question of attention. The top officials in the government are busy people with complicated lives and crowded schedules. It's impossible to quantify the exact cost that literal distraction on the part of folks at the White House, at the Pentagon, and at CENTCOM has had, but it's almost certainly been a big one.

--Matthew Yglesias

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