Friday, August 21, 2009

And the End Game in Afghanistan Is ...?

If you are, like me, increasingly disturbed by the aimlessness of our commitment to Afghanistan, I would direct you to read Mona Charen's article, "Can We Succeed in Afghanistan," posted at National Review Online.

The always thoughtful Charen evaluates new information from the ground inside that war-torn, poverty-stricken country, and asks whether we have reached a "brainlessly partisan" point in our history where "your nation building is a war crime. My nation building is a national-security necessity"?

She quotes Rory Stewart, a Scotsman who is a British Foreign Service Officer who wrote a book, The Places In Between about his journey, on foot no less, across Afghanistan after the initial fall of the Taliban. Stewart believes the new U.S. emphasis on Afghanistan is a mis-diagnosis of what is needed and is raising, as Charen describes it, "a yellow flag" of caution.
The rationale that President Obama has offered for our ramped-up engagement in Afghanistan, Stewart argues in a piece for the London Review of Books, runs as follows: We cannot permit the Taliban to return to power or they will revive the alliance with al-Qaeda and will plot more catastrophic attacks on the United States. In order to defeat the Taliban, we must create a functioning state in the country, and in order to create a functioning state, we must defeat the Taliban. Obama seems keen to increase our role in Afghanistan to highlight the contrast with his predecessor. Bush, Obama ceaselessly repeats, fought “a war of choice,” whereas Obama will fight only “a war of necessity.” [Emphasis DTO]
I'm not quite ready to pull the plug on our effort in Afghanistan, but I'm a lot closer today than six months ago. I fear that our nation's president is ramping up that war for unfathomable reasons, especially after his declaration that victory "wasn't necessarily" the goal of the conflict.

If victory is not the goal of military action, then pray tell what is? Our men and women in uniform deserve to know the broad outline of the end game.

More at some point.

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