From his op-ed in The Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer engages in what one might call "the inaccurate assumption of competence dodge":
Of all the arguments for pulling out of Iraq, the greater importance of Afghanistan is the least serious.
And not just because this argument assumes that the world's one superpower, which spends more on defense every year than the rest of the world combined, does not have the capacity to fight an insurgency in Iraq as well as in Afghanistan. But because it assumes that Afghanistan is strategically more important than Iraq.
Well, I would venture that the argument assumes "the world's one superpower...does not have the capacity to fight an insurgency in Iraq as well as in Afghanistan" because, quite simply, the world's one superpower does not have the capacity to fight an insurgency in Iraq as well as in Afghanistan. That, Dr. Krauthammer, has by now been borne out empirically. The same argument also assumes that Al Qaeda leadership is more likely to be found in Central Asia than in the Middle East. And, of course, it implies the small point that there was an actual moral case to be made (and there remains public support) for overthrowing the Taliban.
Being a doctor, though, Krauthammer presents a "thought experiment":
Bring in a completely neutral observer -- a Martian -- and point out to him that the United States is involved in two hot wars against radical Islamic insurgents. One is in Afghanistan, a geographically marginal backwater with no resources and no industrial or technological infrastructure. The other is in Iraq, one of the three principal Arab states, with untold oil wealth, an educated population, an advanced military and technological infrastructure that, though suffering decay in the later years of Saddam Hussein's rule, could easily be revived if it falls into the right (i.e., wrong) hands. Add to that the fact that its strategic location would give its rulers inordinate influence over the entire Persian Gulf region, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the Gulf states. Then ask your Martian: Which is the more important battle? He would not even understand why you are asking the question.
I think if I were a martian, what I would actually suggest to Krauthammer is exactly what he imagines I (a martian) ought to suggest. Iraq is important. Stay in Iraq. Then, after doing my part to keep the world's one superpower gasping and bleeding and unable to protect its allies or fight its enemies, I'd return to Mars to organize an invasion of my own.