It's a bad idea. We should have just gone in during the latter part of 2001 and, after kicking out the Taliban, installed some Pashtun general as dictator who would not let the country be a terrorist enclave, and bribed him with foreign aid to keep that commitment. Other than that, we do not really have a national interest at stake in Afghanistan, and we need to get over our fixation with installing electoral democracies in backward countries with low levels of education.
I'm of two minds on this. On the one hand, I bought (and still to a large extent do) buy into the whole neoconservative ideology (a card carrying Weekly Standard-Commentary subscriber no less) - which I'm sure is not very popular around these parts.And so on the one hand I don't like the idea of throwing away everything we've gained - which we gained through the expenditure of a large amount of blood and treasure. I don't like the idea of our guys dying in vain. And I feel that's essentially we've done in Iraq - the place is spiraling out of control again because Obama has largely washed his hands of it (it was the "bad" war after all, Afghanistan being the "good, just" one.)That said, I've always been more skeptical of the ability to actually transform Afghanistan. It really doesn't have a history of ever being much of a country so much as a connection of disconnected, often warring tribal lords. It has no infrastructure - since upgraded to "little" (by comparison Iraq looks like New York City) and Karzai has always struck me as at best a scheming, quasi-corrupt figure. I'm therefore very pessimistic.What's the end-game? I'm not sure I've ever heard a realistic plan. Liberals mocked the idea of Iraq becoming an Arab Israel - a beacon or shining "city on a hill" in the Middle East. But I've always found Afghanistan to be the conservative version worthy of mockery. I don't know what we're going to get out of it.So I'm ambivalent, largely. Should we wash our hands of the place? Probably not. But a continual large-scale operation has long since outlived a point where it can be justified. Anonymous above is probably right, from my perspective.
Obama wanted us to stay in Iraq longer than we did. We left because the Iraqi government held us to the withdrawal agreement negotiated by the Bush administration.I also agree with anonymous. We should have left Afghanistan long ago. Letting the people who live there sort things out for themselves is the only policy that is sustainable in the long term. The only real US interest is that the country not revert to being a terrorist haven again. But as it is, we have an ally in Karzai who is now condemning US attacks, but not Taliban attacks.
The point is to have a whole bunch of troops next to both Iran and Pakistan.
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At The Washington Post
At The American Prospect