Thursday, March 19, 2009

Winning in Afghanistan

Senators John McCain and Joseph Lieberman counter the creeping defeatism on Afghanistan, at today's Washington Post, "Our Must-Win War: The 'Minimalist' Path Is Wrong for Afghanistan":

As the administration finalizes its policy review, we are troubled by calls in some quarters for the president to adopt a "minimalist" approach toward Afghanistan. Supporters of this course caution that the American people are tired of war and that an ambitious, long-term commitment to Afghanistan may be politically unfeasible. They warn that Afghanistan has always been a "graveyard of empires" and has never been governable. Instead, they suggest, we can protect our vital national interests in Afghanistan even while lowering our objectives and accepting more "realistic" goals there - for instance, by scaling back our long-term commitment to helping the Afghan people build a better future in favor of a short-term focus on fighting terrorists.

The political allure of such a reductionist approach is obvious. But it is also dangerously and fundamentally wrong, and the president should unambiguously reject it. Let there be no doubt: The war in Afghanistan can be won. Success - a stable, secure, self-governing Afghanistan that is not a terrorist sanctuary - can be achieved. Just as in Iraq, there is no shortcut to success, no clever "middle way" that allows us to achieve more by doing less. A minimalist approach in Afghanistan is a recipe not for winning smarter but for losing slowly at tremendous cost in American lives, treasure and security.
The entire essay is available, here.

4 comments:

LFC said...

Margaret Warner's report from Afghanistan on the NewsHour yesterday, highlighting the enormous problems of gov't corruption, the opium trade, officials or others building "poppy palaces" in Kabul w/ ill-gotten gains, and the consequent high and growing domestic disaffection w/ the Karzai regime, suggests that it may take something close to a miracle to achieve the goals that McCain/Lieberman et al have in mind.

Donald Douglas said...

Margaret Warner? I think that's pretty much all I need to know, LFC.

Tom the Redhunter said...

What nonsense, LFC. Or as I should say, "how predictable." You and other liberals have been looking for a way to lose Afghanistan, and now you think you've found it.

LFC said...

"You and other liberals have been looking for a way to lose Afghanistan..."

I have been inclined to support, in fact, the current administration's decision to deploy some 17,000 more U.S. soldiers. I am simply pointing out the extreme difficulty of any project that has as its goal the creation of a decently functioning, corruption-free central govt.
Warner, from my perspective, is a very good reporter. She asks intelligent questions, she does her homework. Her interview w/ Karzai (broadcast yesterday) is worth hearing (or reading the transcript of).