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Patience won in Libya. How about in Afghanistan?

An Obama doctrine of 'strategic patience' helped to bring down Qaddafi. But Obama's impatience to exit Afghanistan only allows Pakistan and the Taliban to wait out the US.

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Lest it go unnoticed, it was American patience that triumphed over Muammar Qaddafi as much as NATO bombs.

The Libyan dictator only had to be slowly cornered by his own people with a little help from the sky – and not speedily smashed with a hasty, chest-thumping foreign invasion.

Such “strategic patience” is now President Obama’s guiding doctrine for dealing with the world’s hot spots. From North Korea to Iran to Africa, he has looked for smart but small moves to ensnare an opponent while biding his time to build up alliances, “leading from behind,” and husbanding resources.

If this approach is successful, a conflict’s finale – let’s say, a Qaddafi meekly hiding in a drainpipe – makes this clever, lawyerly effort look so simple.

Strategic patience, however, doesn’t work if Mr. Obama also reveals his own impatience, such as setting a deadline for a conflict to end. Then the advantage of strategic patience goes to an opponent.

That’s now the case in Afghanistan, where Obama plans to end the American combat role by 2014 (assuming he is reelected). Not only is the Taliban waiting out this ongoing American exit, but so is the Pakistani military.


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