Monday, December 15, 2008

Democratic-Left Prepares to Abandon Afghanistan

Michael Yon, in his update from Afghanistan, says that when journalists covering the war there see signs translated into English directing villagers to humanitarian clinics they often "wax cynical" that it's all "propaganda" to hide the brutality of the "occupation." Then Yon continues:

Not that it matters what language signs are printed in Afghanistan: most people in Zabul Province cannot read any language. The government estimates that the literacy rate is, more or less, 15%. Not that they have any real way of measuring. It could be lower. And that is why the schools that are being built by foreigners are the most important thing happening in the country. For Afghanistan to have any hope of basic material progress in coming decades, it’s important to make sure that girls can attend those schools without fear of having acid thrown on their faces by Taliban members. Boys, for that matter, need access to education unlike the fundamentalist brainwashing provided by the Taliban-run madrassas.

As for the clinics, they are just a small start to meeting the nation’s vast health care needs. The sad truth is that for the majority of Afghan peasants, the pathetically small amount of medical care that they received over the war years when they languished in the refugee camps of Pakistan — occasional inoculations, rehydration salts to prevent deaths to children and infants from diarrhea, antibiotics that we Westerners take for granted, a modicum of hygienic assistance with childbirth — were the first instances of modern medicine available to them. These clinics, which are pretty basic by our standards, represent a huge leap forward across most of this poor, war-torn nation.
Read the whole thing, here. Yon continues by noting that war and poverty are all the Afghans have known for decades. Americans are in Afghanistan to continue the work begun in 2001-2002, after the Taliban regime was toppled.

I've noted previously (see, "
Cut and Run in Afghanistan?") that the war in Afghanistan will be the central front in the wider war on global terror that the Barack Obama administration will inherit on January 20th. The next administration still has over a month to go before taking office, yet the Democratic-left is already preparing a lobbying push to abandon the Afghans to their fate.

As I wrote a week or so back:

Cernig, writing at the terrorist-enabling left-wing blog, Newshoggers, seeks to deligitimize the continuing U.S. and multinational presence in Afghanistan ...
Well, Cernig's got a new post asking, "Will Afghanistan Be Obama's Downfall?":

The truth ... is that Afghanistan is wondering where it's going and why it is in a handbasket. Bush had to fly from Bagram airbase to Kabul - the military couldn't have guaranteed his safety by road. Rampant corruption among the Afghan government and police force, along with heavy-handed aggressiveness from allied troops, have largely made the cities and military bases islands in a Taliban sea. "The Americans and the Afghan army control the highway, and five meters on each side. The rest is our territory," one Taliban commander told the Guardian's Ghaith Abdul Ahad. The Taliban are the only form of order in many rural areas ....

Counter-insurgency doctrine says that no amount of military force or even bribery can remove an insurgency from an area where it is supported by the general populace. But it would also pave the way for a negotiated settlement with Taliban who were willing to stop fighting, instead becoming a relatively non-oppressive local government. The UK and other allies have become convinced that this is the only path to "success" and eventual withdrawal left open and have already had some successes in that regard.

However, the Taliban are even more widely supported in Pakistan's border areas - and have the support/direction of at least large chunks of the military and ISI intelligence agency to boot. They've already proven they can hit Western supply lines with impunity, at a cost of millions of dollars, and
can strangle the Western military presence in Afghanistan should they wish to.

We're back to the thorny problem of nuke-armed Pakistan, from which 75% of the world's terror plots emanate.
A general invasion is not an option and it's highly unlikely that anything less than an invasion will have an appreciable effect. Thus it seems that all Pakistan and the Taliban have to do is out-wait the inevitable Western collapse as the occupation loses support and authority. Canada has said it doesn't wish to still be involved after 2011, the mainland Europeans are clearly reluctant to get sucked in to a treasure and blood draining quagmire, and even British politicians are saying staying in the hope of half-assed 'success" isn't worth it.
If you go back and check Cernig's archives, you'll find nearly the exact same Cassandra warnings about an inevitable failure in Iraq, about how sectarian tribes would strangle the American presence in a bloodbath of primordial violence.

Now, though, the Bush administration's preparing to leave office with a sucessful Iraqi military that's confident
it will keep the peace and secure the new democracy, especially since full sovereignty after 2011 means indigenious forces can battle terrorist dead-enders without concern for Western human rights groups tying the hands of American and Iraqi fighters.

The truth is that the Demcratic-left wants an American pullout from Afghanistan. These folks despise the forward projection of American power, and the prospect of a long deployment in South Asia is raising very uncomfortable questions now that an ostensibly antiwar Democrat prepares to come to power in Washington. In response, Steve Clemons has come out to repudiate the notion that Aghanistan is the only "legitimate" American deployment in post-9/11 U.S. foreign policy:

I am increasingly worried about the framing that America's next President and his team are applying to Iraq and Afghanistan.

To be blunt, they have been arguing that "Iraq was the bad war and Afghanistan is the good war," not in those precise words -- but close enough.

A mutual friend of Katrina vanden Heuvel and mine wrote this to her (and then me) in an email:

"Afghanistan. The place where the dreams and hopes of the Obama Presidency are buried."

We have to be careful of who we think we are fighting in Afghanistan. What army exactly is America trying to squelch? If we are now in a full on war with the Taliban, then this country will see its global leverage deteriorate to even lower levels than what is the case today.

More later - but we shouldn't allow corruption scandals and other silly posturing on Sunday morning shows to distract us from the reality that we are on a quite negative trajectory in Afghanistan (and Pakistan) right now - and we need whopping game-changing moves there that are as significant, if not more, than challenges about America's auto sector.

Don't miss the title of Clemons' post, "Afghanistan is NOT the Good War."

No war is a good war, of course, and even Studs Terkel would remind us that any war requires domestic support if we are to be successful.


Barack Obama, with the weight of reality bearing down on him, has chosen a foreign policy team that knows what to do. The U.S. will build up our forces and fight along the mountain redoubts more vigorously than before. In diplomacy, the U.S. will push Pakistan to clean it up - and sweep out terror sanctuaries - or risk the loss of U.S. military and economic support. Americans, most of all, will continue to support countries like India who bear the brunt of terrorist barbarism.

This might not be a "good war," but it's one that is just and one the West will win. From the beaches to the landing grounds, we will never surrender.

5 comments:

Michael Tuggle said...

"From the beaches to the landing grounds, we will never surrender."

That's the rallying cry of the defender, not the invader.

Donald Douglas said...

Tuggle ... go away, really.

JBW said...

As a fan of free speech and the exchange of ideas I have to ask: really, Don? You're better than this, dude.

Michael Tuggle said...

JBW,

I dunno -- is he better than that? He boasts on his home page, "I welcome comments and debate, and I'll defend my positions vigorously."

But he doesn't -- he simply dismisses any dissent as "unpatriotic" or "leftist." Just tossing labels at arguments he can't handle isn't debate.

JBW said...

MT, that's what I'm saying: read what the man writes; he obviously has a brain, regardless of how off he is in his analysis. I've never been dismissed so offhandedly, so I know he can do better; I chalk this up to late-night bad manners, but I understand why you're upset. Come on, Don...