I had hoped Obama wasn't actually serious about nation-building in Afghanistan, that stony place, because it could serve as a useful diversion for filtering troops out of Iraq, for declaring quick victory, and then bouncing them home. A hemi-surge, if you will, a ready means to cut losses. But all signs indicate he is set to take his babblings about moral obligations seriously, eating foreign policy lotus blossoms in a temple by a bubbling fountain, burning incense while chanting over a copy of the Wall Street Journal. In short, this is the stuff epic disasters are made of, and if his pronouncements are not pure and brilliant sophistries, the war in Afghanistan is already lost. Via his mouth, our stated aims are to:
promote a more capable and accountable Afghan government . . . advance security, opportunity and justice . . . develop an economy that isn’t dominated by illicit drugs.None of that is going to happen. Those goals are "off the table," Vietnamistan-style, so it's time for us to "move on." Obama can't wave a Hopey Wand and achieve any of those objectives, and in a world where states like Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Niger, Georgia, Lebanon and Alaska are vulnerable to al-Qaeda and unsafe for Wal-marts, it should not take a genius to realize one screamingly obvious fact:
AFGHANISTAN IS NOT IMPORTANT!
Rather, it is a vacuum the US has amply filled after sponsoring both sides in the current conflict. Past proxies are fighting our new proxies. That may be confusing, but it means we have no excuse for getting paranoid-schizo over control, as all within its borders know. Rory Stewart, the modern Lawrence of Arabia for Iraq and Afghanistan, has written a devastating critique of Western policy re: those parts in the London Review of Books, titled 'The Irresistible Illusion.' His advice is to scale back objectives, combat troops, and to emphasize development. He donned hip-waders for examining the official BS, and came back to translate realistic, lower-cost prescriptions into ambassadorial language:
...the presence of NATO special forces, the challenging logistical and political conditions in Afghanistan and lack of technological capacity, are likely to impede al-Qaida in Afghanistan from posing a significant threat to UK or US national security. Instead development in South Asia should remain the key strategic priority for the UK government in the region.Custer should not have attacked at Little Big Horn, and he would've gotten much further by focusing on the dwindling buffalo herds.