Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Afghanistan is Not Lost

I missed last night's speech.

Did he actually utter the word domino?

And did the words Gulf o' Tonkin get tossed around?

I lament the decision to extend and expand our involvement. As you all know, I am a pinko who wants us handing out flowers and saving the children.

Actually, um, not. But I don't think our security will significantly be enhanced, and I don't think we can "prop up" Pakistan through continued military involvement in Afghanistan.

I could put up a post about why I think we should withdraw, but you guys don't give a fuck what I'm thinking -- you just wanna know where the next naked broad is. . . .

1 comment:

Mister Parker said...

As my foreign policy professor at Vanderbilt, Melvyn P. Leffler, used to say, "Are the means commensurate with the goals?"

Which is to say, we should always ask ourselves three questions when implementing any foreign policy strategy or tactic:

1) What are your goals? What are you trying to accomplish? In Afghanistan, are we trying to (a) deny al Qaeda a base of operations? (b) prevent the Taliban from regaining power? (c) create a stable central government? (d) create a Western style democracy? (e) stabilize the Middle East? (f) ensure the steady flow of oil?

These are different objectives requiring (potentially) different means to achieve them.

2) Are your chosen means the right ones to accomplish your goal? In this case, will sending additional troops to Afghanistan help us achieve (1) above? A solution in one situation will create new problems in another. If you have a leak in the basement, you call a plumber. If you have a leak in a heart valve, you call a cardiologist. Don't confuse one with the other.

3) And this is the question we usually fail to ask ourselves: To accomplish (1) above, are we willing to pay the price in terms of blood, treasure, prestige and influence, lost opportunities (military, political, diplomatic) and national will? For example, a war in western Europe is more central to our survival as a nation than a war in, say, Micronesia. Thus, our response to one should, realistically in terms of what we're really willing to sacrifice, be different than our response to the other.

We often have very noble goals in our foreign policy but rarely reach into the right bag of options for achieving those goals (some of which may be unachievable outside of Utopia) and soon find ourselves unwilling to continue writing the check, or even if we've chosen the right means, realize it's not something we really care about after all.

I don't know what the answer is in Afghanistan. I have a pretty good idea what the questions are, though.