Adm. Mullen speaks of combating Afghanistan's "culture of poverty." But that took decades in just a few square miles of the South Bronx. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, U.S. commander in Afghanistan, thinks jobs programs and local government services might entice many "accidental guerrillas" to leave the Taliban. But before launching New Deal 2.0 in Afghanistan, the Obama administration should ask itself: If U.S. forces are there to prevent re-establishment of al-Qaeda bases -- evidently there are none now -- must there be nation-building invasions of Somalia, Yemen and other sovereignty vacuums?
U.S. forces are being increased by 21,000 to 68,000, bringing the coalition total to 110,000. About 9,000 are from Britain, where support for the war is waning. Counterinsurgency theory concerning the time and the ratio of forces required to protect the population indicates that, nationwide, Afghanistan would need hundreds of thousands of coalition troops, perhaps for a decade or more. That is inconceivable.
So, instead, forces should be substantially reduced to serve a comprehensively revised policy: America should do only what can be done from offshore, using intelligence, drones, cruise missiles, airstrikes and small, potent special forces units, concentrating on the porous 1,500-mile border with Pakistan, a nation that actually matters.
Genius, said de Gaulle, recalling Bismarck's decision to halt German forces short of Paris in 1870, sometimes consists of knowing when to stop. Genius is not required to recognize that in Afghanistan, when means now, before more American valor, such as Allen's, is squandered.
From a cost/benefit standpoint, I don't see the material benefits from staying in Afghanistan as opposed to the tremendous costs associated with the endeavor.
I think it is the wrong war for us to be in. Iraq had a chance to be something successful. They have roads, indoor plumbing, telephone lines, newspapers and television. They have universities and a highly literate populace. And they have the oil wealth to make it all so much more. Iraq could be quite a country one day. Afghanistan will be in the stone age right after we leave.
A quote I liked from Will's article:
This city should keep faith with them by rapidly reversing the trajectory of America's involvement in Afghanistan, where, says the Dutch commander of coalition forces in a southern province, walking through the region is "like walking through the Old Testament."
Walking through the Old Testament is one way to put it. Afghanistan appears to have a timeless quality. It is as it was at the begining of time, and it shall be until the end of time. No amount of American blood and treasure will make much of a difference.
I want out of Afghanistan.
Rich Lowry says No.
Robert Stacy McCain has no use for the Cut and Run Bridage
Bill Kristol: "Will is urging retreat, and accepting defeat."
It would be nice for someone somewhere to define what victory in Afghanistan would look like. At what cost in blood and treasure would this be possible? Do we need to stay there for 12 more years and spend another trillion? What if it is 15 years and 3 trillion? We live in a world of scarce resources. Is there any limit where one can say why not just choose a different path?
I think Afghanistan is not worth it. We simply can't afford it. The upside in Afghanistan is what? The potential is where? Might as well just flush dollars down the toilet. Sphere: Related Content