What Do We Do with Afghanistan?

by Ryan on August 12, 2009

in International Relations,Politics,War on Terror

Afghanistan was always deemed the “Good War” by the Left and generally by those who supported the “cut-and-run” strategy in the Iraq War.  Afghanistan was a war of defense, while Iraq was a war of choice.  Well, Iraq is turning out to be a “stayed-put-and-won” conflict, while Afghanistan seems the murky war with no endgame.  Our soldiers are great at finding the enemy and killing it.  That part is easy for us, but we’re lacking a larger strategy and NATO doesn’t know its a** from its elbow half the time:  being on auto-pilot does not win a dog-fight.

This morning the Marines began a huge offensive in Southeast Afghanistan in order to allow for a safe and orderly voting process for the national elections scheduled for later this month.  We did similar things in Iraq and they worked out well.  But Afghanistan is not Iraq.  Afghanistan is much more rural, more rocky, less tied together into one or even three basic political units, they don’t all speak the same language, some tribes don’t respect artificial political boundaries, and the biggest proven money-maker for the Average Joe farmer in Afghanistan is poppy for heroine. 

Clear-and-Hold around Kabul has worked thus far at maintaining the status quo, but the countryside, seeing few alternatives, has re-embraced the Taliban in many areas.  A Surge? A Sunni-Awakening approach?  An Afghani Porkulus Bill?  Any?  All?  Something farsighted please!  I don’t like this current policy of drift, I don’t like Pakistan’s reluctance to allow us into Waziristan with guns, cannons, and drones, and I don’t like the focus on temporary victories like the safe election — alright, that’s cool, safe elections are nice, but what next? 

Perhaps Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should spend less time yelling at people in the Congo and more time in Afghanistan thinking about how to win a war slowly slipping from our fingers.  But that would take leadership from her boss — our people currently in office don’t have the guts to shift tactics the way Bush did, so time is precious.

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