Friday, January 12, 2007

We've already lost

Matthew Yglesias:
Goldberg notes that "Polls also show that a sizable minority of Democrats now feel that the war in Afghanistan was a mistake--thirty five per cent." Peter Beinart cites a similar poll to likewise make the point that liberals have become crazed peaceniks. Goldberg would, however, do well to provide some analysis of the substantive question. ... After all, to a remarkable degree the administration managed not to accomplish its objectives.
The primary reason why Afghanistan is in anyone's national interest, post-9/11, is to try and keep the Taliban and Al Qaeda from re-establishing a safe haven in Central Asia. Well, um, too late -- the treaty the Taliban signed with the Pakistani government gives them safe haven inside Pakistan's borders. This isn't just bad, it's substantially worse than what we had pre-9/11. After all, invading or attacking Afghanistan was always an option -- invading Pakistan will never be. (It's a nuclear power, ya dig?)

Does this mean the only reason to stay in Afghanistan is gone? No, but the main "national interest" argument has disappeared. What we're left with now is essentially a war to keep Pakistan from returning Afghanistan to it's decade-long status as proxy state for Islamabad, or basically a peacekeeping mission to keep the Pashtun insurgency bottled up in the south while a government in the north -- with no legitimacy among the ethnic majority in Afghanistan -- tries to solidify its control. Let's just say I don't like our odds.

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