Just to top off a day of heavy blogging so that I can get all of these thoughts off my chest.
I’m not sure I’m on board with the leave Afghanistan crowd quite yet. That said, I’m not sure I understand what the escalation is for.
I recently learned in Where Men Win Glory that the entire intent behind the 9/11 attacks was to draw the U.S. into a war in Afghanistan so that the same people (more or less) who finished the Soviet Union could do the same thing to us in the same place. While they haven’t been nearly as successful against us so far (mainly because no one is giving them stinger missiles), they’re gaining ground.
The reason for this, as I understand it, is quite simple: they just go hide out in Pakistan. Pakistan is the most dangerous country in the world right now and if we destabilize it, we’re opening Pandora’s box. It may fall apart anyway, but I wouldn’t want to be the one who did it. Hundreds of millions of people could die in a nuclear war between India and Pakistan.
Unless the U.S. has a plan to remove the nuclear arsenal from Pakistan and a more general plan to deal with Pakistan, we are probably never going to fix the problem in Afghanistan—unless we send however many hundred thousand troops it would take to absolutely seal the border. Both of these options, it seems, are far more consequential than just an “escalation”—they are opening up a whole new front.
On the other hand, I’m not sure abandoning the place has clear outcomes, either. It seems clear that the Taliban would gain control of much more of the place and it would become another terrorist haven. But the Taliban and other Islamist movements gain power from being an alternative to the suffering brought about indirectly from the west by puppet dictators, and directly in the case of occupations.
There was an early consensus of an Afghan Marshall plan to go along with our war in 2001 that never went anywhere in the Bush years. I think that may be the only hope now. Decrease suffering, increase stability. If that takes more troops, fine. But prove it.