Didn’t we already resolve this debate?

DIDN’T WE ALREADY RESOLVE THIS DEBATE?…. In his speech last night, President Obama briefly touched on his expectations for withdrawing from Afghanistan: “[T]aken together, these additional American and international troops will allow us to accelerate handing over responsibility to Afghan forces, and allow us to begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011.”

You can probably guess who’s complaining about the timeline.

Senator John McCain on Tuesday expressed support for the plan to send 30,000 troops to Afghanistan, but said he objected to setting a date for an exit strategy to begin as early as 2011.

“Dates for withdrawal are dictated by conditions,” Mr. McCain told reporters on Capitol Hill. “The way that you win wars is to break the enemy’s will, not to announce dates that you are leaving.”

Didn’t we already resolve this debate? John “100 years” McCain may have forgotten, but his underlying argument — the U.S. should fight open-ended conflicts until some vague concept of “success” is achieved — has already been rejected by nearly everyone.

Here’s a refresher: the Bush/Cheney administration, after years of rhetoric about avoiding “artificial” deadlines and our enemies “waiting us out,” finally agreed to a withdrawal timeline for Iraq. Republicans accepted it. That was just last year.

Last night, President Obama referenced an indistinct, non-binding beginning of a withdrawal in 2011 “taking into account conditions on the ground.”

So why would the right complain?

The withdrawal strategy may be amended as circumstances dictate, but at least it exists. That may annoy McCain & Co., but as Kevin Drum noted, “[L]ook, we’ve been in Afghanistan for eight years. If 100,000+ NATO troops can’t start to turn the tide by 2011, then it’s time to leave. The alternative is to commit to staying forever, and that’s insane. Obama has now given the military everything it needs to succeed, and if they still can’t do it, then they just can’t do it.”