Apply the Reagan Doctrine to Afghanistan

Dear Mr. President,

You are scheduled to announce your decision on your plan for Afghanistan on Tuesday. Your long-awaited announcement comes after our former Vice President urged you to quit dithering. Months after the general you hand-picked for the job requested 40,000 trips -- pronto. Even your Secretary of Defense, a man known for preternatural moderation has appeared to be losing patience with you in recent weeks. And to top it off, progressives may never forgive you if you do anything other than retreat.

As you prepare to announce your decision may I suggest an alternative strategy? It's the Reagan Doctrine. You remember him. You told us often during the campaign how much you admired him. Here's a chance to show just how bipartisan you can be.

Former President Ronald Reagan learned the most important lesson to be learned from our experience in Vietnam and carefully abided by it and you can too. It is this: Whenever possible, freedom movements within a country are best fought by citizens of that country and not by outsiders and interlopers sent to liberate them. The Reagan doctrine kept America's 40th president from sending American troops en masse to "liberate" Afghanis, Nicaraguans, Poles, Angolans, and yes, even Russians, from totalitarian regimes that oppressed them. And it could have also kept our 43rd President out of the mess he found himself in.

Instead of invading those nations, Reagan provided overt and covert aid, military training and most importantly moral support (he once called Nicaraguan resistance fighters "the moral equal of our Founding Fathers" and called the Soviet government a "Mickey Mouse system") so that the citizens of those countries could liberate themselves and win their own freedoms instead of asking America to purchase their freedom with the blood of the finest young men and women our nation has to offer.

When Reagan strayed briefly from his own doctrine by agreeing to put American forces in Lebanon, the bombings of U.S. barracks quickly shocked him back to reality and he withdrew his troops offshore, famously declaring, "We're not bugging out. We're just going to a more defensible position."

Ronald Reagan was as fierce an opponent as the enemies of the freedom and American interests had ever seen, and a dedicated ideologue but he was also shrewd military planner who understood the limits of American power. His notion of how struggles for freedom were and weren't to be waged saved thousands of American young men and women from death on foreign battlefields and resulted in more people being free around the world than ever before.

While nobody can say definitively what Reagan would do today facing the situation you face in Afghanistan, if the past in Lebanon, Angola, Nicaragua and Afghanistan is prologue, perhaps he would identify the "moral equals of our Founding Fathers," train them, arm them with every material support they might need to battle the forces of tyranny in their own nations and then strategically retreat, bringing home thousands of America's finest and cheering the forces of freedom on from the sidelines of a battle that, for multiple reasons, is best waged by them.

Mark Joseph is a producer, writer and editor of BullyPulpit.com. He is a frequent Fox Forum contributor.

Mark Joseph is a film producer and marketing expert who has worked on the development and marketing of 25 films. His most recent book is The Lion, The Professor & The Movies: Narnia's Journey To The Big Screen.