Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Optimism on Afghanistan?

You don't hear all that much optimism about Afghanistan lately. Even commentators prone to optimism are usually careful to point out all the difficulties, and offer only some cautious hope for the future. That's why it was surprising to see a major military figure go way out on a limb and say that he thinks "the tide is turning in Afghanistan." That's the opinion of Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, commander of the Australian Defense Forces, which have been assisting the U.S. in Afghanistan and currently have 1550 troops in country. He made that comment on the record during a government hearing. Let's hope his opinion is justified.

1 comment:

  1. I don't know what strategic and policy recommendations the generals are making to the president, or if they feel that it is their place to make the policy recommendations that would make the war much more easily winnable.

    They must know these two truths:
    1 truth is that the war on drugs is not winnable. Whether to fight it as a war can ease at all the pain of drug addicts or their communities is debatable i suppose. I personally don't think there is any net positive effect to having government try to stop people from using drugs that they want to use. But that is arguable I suppose. But I think we can agree that to propose that the war on drugs is winnable is delusional.
    2nd truth is that the result of war on drugs in Afghanistan and Colombia gives money/power/recruits/legitimacy to our enemy. To an enemy that otherwise would have none of the above.

    So, I fear that the war in Afghanistan will turn our like the war in Columbia, only worse. Worse because the consequences of not winning are graver than those of not winning in Colombia. The war in Colombia has been going on as long as I have been alive, but the only consequence of not winning that war is that the lives of many Colombian civilians are destroyed, and the crime rate in Columbia, Mexico, and the US is higher than it would otherwise be.
    The consequences of not winning in Afghanistan are graver, because of the goals of our enemy in the region. The enemy in Afghanistan that we empower with the war on drugs is an enemy that will destroy us if they can. Pakistan is one of the stakes in the war, and Pakistan has nukes.

    I guess another consequence of the drug war in Colombia (and the US) is a loss of liberties in the US. I suppose the necessities of those liberties, or whether those liberties would be lost for another reason without the drug war, can be argued.