The Cream of the Jest

After critiquing the gauzy proposals of each of the Democratic candidates for Afghanistan, the editors of the Washington Post finally get around to their own plan—stay:

What if ground troops are the best, or only, way to keep a pro-Western government in Kabul, and if keeping such a government stable is the best, or only, way to prevent a terrorist resurgence? The United States has ground troops in South Korea and Western Europe decades after the shooting wars that brought them there, precisely because their stabilizing presence helps prevent war. Afghanistan is, to be sure, a much more dangerous environment, but U.S. combat deaths have numbered in the low double digits in recent years.

Note that they conflate, without evidence, counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism strategies. I would genuinely like to see any evidence that a counter-insurgency strategy can be effective in Afghanistan or that it does not actually conflict with a counter-terrorism strategy.

Before leaving this subject I do want to point out one egregious bit of crackpottery:

On the debate stage, former vice president Joe Biden defended the Obama administration’s decision, then reiterated his long-held view that Afghanistan “will not be put together” and that the United States should withdraw its troops, except for bases in Pakistan, from which it can strike at terrorists when the need arises.

The United States presently has no bases in Pakistan; on occasion we have used Pakistani bases. The Pakistani government has steadfastly refused to allow the U. S. to have bases within Pakistan. And there’s actually pretty fair evidence that the Pakistani government is sponsoring the Taliban. Also, take a glance at a map and consider the geopolitical implications of a U. S. military base with adequate resources to “strike at terrorists when the need arises”. India? China?

1 comment… add one
  • bob sykes Link

    Russia, China, Pakistan, and India are all full members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which is one of the agreements promoting the economic integration of Eurasia. China’s OBOR and Russia’s Eurasian Union are part of it, too, and they have recently merged. The Afghan government and the Taliban have also accepted some sort of relationship with the program. Iran also is involved, and Turkey has expressed an interest.

    Russia and China are busily using economic incentives to improve their positions in Eurasia. The main problem they face is the Pakistani-Indian dispute. But the incorporation of India and Pakistan into the SCO suggests some sort of resolution might be possible, if Russia and China push hard enough.

    Contrast that peaceful policy with ours, which emphasizes war and threats of war. Pakistan was intimidated into cooperation with our Afghanistan invasion by threats of war and the withholding of aid. Can they be relied upon?

    The Taliban are essentially the fighting arm of the Pashtun people, most of whom live in Pakistan. Our position in Afghanistan, and the region, is utterly hopeless. For now, we have enough power, resources, and men to continue our presence in country. But our position is getting worse, and at some point our military will be overrun.

    The collapse of the secret talks with the Taliban, which had produced a viable peace agreement for us, at least, appears to be part of the neocon cabal’s determination to sabotage Trump’s foreign policy initiatives, which were aimed at peace.

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