Monday, November 02, 2009

The Washington Post Wants Us Out of Afghanistan?


Of course not. Hiatt and his boys serve up a typically insipid, unsigned editorial suggesting the opposite. But their image of us standing on the edge of a slippery slope, with their hands at our back ready to push us down, is in may ways a compelling argument to bring our experiment to an end:
One of the rhetorical questions frequently tossed out in the debate over Afghanistan concerns the brewing trouble in Somalia and Yemen, both of which are known to host al-Qaeda cadres and training camps. If it's necessary to pacify Afghanistan to protect U.S. security, goes the taunt, must we also intervene in Somalia and Yemen?

The presumed answer is: "Of course not -- and therefore why bother with Afghanistan?" The more sensible response is: If something is not done soon about these lawless places, one or the other may well become the next Afghanistan -- a place where U.S. military intervention was compelled by a devastating attack on the homeland.
In other words, although it (as usual) has no concept of what a victory would look like or how it would be achieved, and no explanation of how it would improve U.S. security, the Post wants us to invade every nation that could become "the next Afghanistan". When Hiatt and friends pose the rhetorical question, "If it's necessary to pacify Afghanistan to protect U.S. security, goes the taunt, must we also intervene in Somalia and Yemen?" they have already rejected the answer, "Well, maybe it's not necessary to pacify Afghanistan." The only "solution" they can conceive involves spending additional trillions to invade additional nations that we can't realistically pacify, forcing the al-Qaeda camps into other "lawless nations" or across the border into "friendly" states that become de facto safe havens, and in turn become increasingly radicalized and destabilized.

Even if we assume that we have the money and troops to fund unlimited war, how is that a recipe for the long-term security of the United States? What is the actual danger to U.S. interests posed by these training camps? Could it be that it's U.S. military action that's causing al-Qaeda to metastasize, inspiring it to extend into other nations where anti-U.S. sentiment is high and new recruits are easy to find? Where those camps, and associated military action, destabilize neighboring countries? Might we not be more secure if the camps were concentrated in Afghanistan? For that matter, how much direct danger do these camps pose to U.S. interests? The training that put us most at risk wasn't that learned in Afghan camps - it was the training terrorists obtained at U.S. flight schools.

Where can we find even slight evidence that al-Qaeda is any more tied to Somalia than it was to Afghanistan... fighting them "there" so we don't have to fight them "here" doesn't work so well if they leave, let us fight the locals, and carry on business as usual from other nations, and can easily return to fill any void we leave behind. Hiatt doesn't seem honest enough to admit it, but his board's editorial boils down to "Everything we've tried so far has failed, so let's double down!"

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