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Must-Read Op-Eds for Tuesday, March 13, 2012

HORROR IN KANDAHAREDITORIALNEW YORK TIMESThere are roughly 90,000 American troops in Afghanistan now, with 22,000 scheduled to leave by this fall.

HORROR IN KANDAHAREDITORIALNEW YORK TIMESThere are roughly 90,000 American troops in Afghanistan now, with 22,000 scheduled to leave by this fall. The Obama administration is now considering reducing troop levels in Afghanistan by at least 20,000 by 2013, and possibly even deeper. The United States has a vital interest in ensuring Afghanistan doesn’t again become a launching pad for terrorist attacks. It has to keep moving forward with negotiations on an American presence after 2014, while continuing to review whether there are prudent ways to speed the process for withdrawal.ONE-WAY WANTONNESSBY FRANK BRUNINEW YORK TIMESNearly two weeks since Rush Limbaugh let loose on Sandra Fluke, equating her desire for insurance-covered birth control with a prostitute’s demand for a fee, the wrangling over how awful that really was and whether it will truly haunt him continues. Advertisers bolted in protest; advertisers come and go all the time. It was the beginning of his end; it was ratings chum. He lost his way; he was Rush in Excelsis. ... Gloria Allred has called for his criminal prosecution, citing an obscure Florida statute. The statute says anyone who “speaks of and concerning any woman, married or unmarried, falsely and maliciously imputing to her a want of chastity” is committing a misdemeanor. Good thing it’s not a felony. The prisons might fill to bursting.

Read Monday's Must-Read Op-Eds

AN ALLIANCE THE WORLD CAN COUNT ONBY BARACK OBAMA & DAVID CAMERONWASHINGTON POSTAs two nations that support the human rights and dignity of all people ... [w]e condemn the Syrian regime’s horrific violence against innocent civilians, and we are focused on the urgent humanitarian task of getting food and medicine to those in need. We’ll continue to tighten the noose around Bashar al-Assad and his cohorts, and we’ll work with the opposition and the United Nations-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan to plan for the transition that will follow Assad’s departure from power. ... Our troops and citizens have long shown what can be achieved when British and Americans work together, heart and hand, and why this remains an essential relationship. So like generations before us, we’re going to keep it up. Because with confidence in our cause and faith in each other, we still believe that there is hardly anything we cannot do.END THE AFGHAN MISSION NOWBY EUGENE ROBINSONWASHINGTON POSTThis is supposed to be a period of transition from U.S. occupation to Afghan government control. But what do we expect to accomplish between now and 2014, when our troops are supposed to come home? We can be confident that the Afghan government will still be feckless and corrupt. We can anticipate that the Afghan military will still lack personnel, equipment and training. We can be absolutely certain that the Taliban insurgents will still constitute a threat, because — and this is what gung-ho advocates of the war fail to grasp — they live there. To them, Afghanistan is not a battlefield but a home. It’s their country, not ours. In increasingly clear language, Afghans are telling us to leave. We should listen and oblige.THE PERILS OF RETREATEDITORIALWALL STREET JOURNALNo one but a rogue Army Sergeant is responsible for the crime of killing 16 Afghan civilians on the weekend. And no one but rogue Afghan soldiers are responsible for the recent killings of American GIs. But the events take place against a political backdrop in which everyone, friend and foe alike, knows the U.S. is heading toward the exits in Afghanistan. Retreats are messy in warfare, and they can quickly become disorderly when the mission becomes something other than military victory. ... One GI's killing spree should not be able to undermine a war effort for which Americans have sacrificed so much. But that's what can happen when everyone concludes that a President's timetable is geared more to an election than to military success. If only Mr. Obama spoke as clearly about U.S. purposes in Afghanistan as he has about the risks of an Israeli attack on Iran.CALIFORNIA'S GREEK TRAGEDYBY MICHAEL BOSKIN & JOHN CAOGANWALL STREET JOURNALMr. Brown is a man of ideas, having run for president in 1992 on a bold flat-tax agenda. Instead of still more antigrowth tax hikes, he should break the grip on the state legislature of his party's special interests—public employee unions, trial lawyers, teacher unions and extreme environmentalists. A California renaissance—building on the best reforms in budgeting and taxes, education and welfare, crime prevention and pensions by such leaders as Rudy Giuliani, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie and Andrew Cuomo—is still possible. What it requires is a governor with the vision, determination and political will to see it through.BAD OR WORSE IN AFGHANISTAN?BY VICTOR DAVIS HANSENNATIONAL REVIEWThe president should either put Afghanistan on the front burner, quit apologizing, seek diplomatic and military continuity, spell out to the people exactly what our aims and methods are, assume the role of commander-in-chief, cease all talk of withdrawal, and define, as it could be defined, “victory” — or simply get out, declare a teleprompted  hope-and-change-style victory, and not put Americans in harm’s way in a war that was more a 2008 campaign trope than a serious conflict to be won, as Americans joined the Russians, the British, and the Macedonians who all decided that short-term victory, occupation, and reform cost too much, given what might be gained in Afghanistan.