Another Danger Sign In Afghanistan

I’m glad to see Barack Obama ignoring, at least for the moment, the voices of those in his own party who want to cut and run in Afghanistan. During the campaign, he talked a lot about ramping up our efforts there and he does seem to be making some efforts on that front.

That being said, his diplomatic failures in Kyrgyzstan and Pakistan have allowed our supply routes to get distressingly narrow, perhaps so much so, that it may ultimately imperil the whole enterprise.

Additionally, if these unsourced comments from the Washington Times turn out to be true, I think his strategy is going to be extremely problematic as well,

The Obama administration has conducted a vigorous internal debate over its new strategy for Afghanistan, expected to be unveiled by the president in a speech Friday.

According to two U.S. government sources close to the issue, senior policymakers were divided over how comprehensive to make the strategy, involving an initial boost of 17,000 U.S. troops.

On the one side were Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Deputy Secretary of State James B. Steinberg, who argued in closed-door meetings for a minimal strategy of stabilizing Afghanistan that one source described as a “lowest common denominator” approach.

…The goal of these advocates was to limit civilian and other nonmilitary efforts in Afghanistan and focus on a main military objective of denying safe haven to the Taliban and al Qaeda terrorists.

The other side of the debate was led by Richard C. Holbrooke, the special envoy for the region, who along with U.S. Central Command leader Gen. David H. Petraeus and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton fought for a major nation-building effort.

The Holbrooke-Petraeus-Clinton faction, according to the sources, prevailed. The result is expected to be a major, long-term military and civilian program to reinvent Afghanistan from one of the most backward, least developed nations to a relatively prosperous democratic state.

This isn’t Iraq, where they actually could be the most prosperous state in the region not called Israel. Afghanistan is a country full of combative, uneducated, backwards tribesmen. Can they make economic progress? Sure. Could they eventually become a “relatively prosperous democratic state?” Sure. But, what are the chances that is going to happen inside of the next eight years? Zero, nada, zilch. It’s impossible. So, if that’s really an important part of our strategy, our strategy is either doomed to fail or we’re going to still be building them up a decade from now. Neither of those options is appealing.

However, again, the Washington Times report wasn’t sourced, so let’s hope it’s not entirely accurate.

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