Thursday, January 29, 2009

Afghan Blues

My good buddy forwarded me a column by Ralph Peters that appeared in the January 27 New York Post, drawing parallels between Afghanistan and Vietnam.

It’s a caution to the Obama administration to avoid LBJ’s mistake of thinking that pouring in money and troops will pacify the country.

You can read the whole thing here:

The essence is captured in a few paragraphs:

If our goal is to turn Afghanistan into a rule-of-law democracy, forget it. Iraq has an outside shot - it’s a semi-modern society - although success is far from guaranteed. But a modernized Afghan state whose authority extends into every remote valley is an impossibility.
If, however, our goal is only to prevent Afghanistan from again becoming a massive terrorist mother-ship, we can do that - and at a lower cost. But we’d have to have the guts to choose sides among factions and stop pretending that we’re honest brokers...
Inherently, this one’s a special-operations war. A sounder long-term approach would be fewer troops on the ground - and far less reliance on vulnerable supply routes through Pakistan. Regular combat units have a role to play, but as punitive strike forces, not a vast neighborhood watch (this is not Iraq).
Ditch the claptrap that we can’t kill our way out of this: Well-focused killing, for decades, is our only chance - and Afghanistan’s. And dump the feel-good platitudes. In the real world off-campus, good marksmanship trumps good will.

I think this guy’s right. We need to focus solely on “prevent(ing) Afghanistan from again becoming a massive terrorist mother-ship” and do it smart and on the cheap. If that means backing some unsavory characters, fine. As long as they’re our unsavory characters.

Back to real politick, please.

Jim Cornelius, Editor


  1. "...If that means backing some unsavory characters, fine. As long as they’re our unsavory characters."

    Great policy choice, Jim. It worked out that well with Saddam, huh? Oh and Putin, yeah, he's "our guy" too. Hey, let's send more money to the Palestinians too!

    Jim, are you sure your last name isn't Carter?

  2. The war in Afghanistan was the proper war for the U.S. to undertake given the confirmed Threat. With the former Bush Administration's losing sight of this in favor of its "Iraq Expedition" the Afghan war has gone sideways for some years now, and although Obama is of the belief it should be revisited the time has truly passed for such action.

    The article noted hits the nail on the head and is worth reading, thinking, and sincere discussion.

    And then well considered action and perhaps with savory allies and leaders at all levels, and in all forums, rather than the cadre of "winners" we've mis-picked and supported for administration after administration.

    I'd blame the editor of the Nugget for all of this but somehow that seems, well, both moronic as well as sophomoric.

  3. NPR's Fresh Air program ran an interview with a woman named Sarah Chase (not sure on the spelling) who made a strong case against the thinking laid out in this commentary.

    She started a company in Afghanistan working with local people to produce botanicals and skin care products with indigenous materials.

    She argues that creating good governance in Afghanistan should be our top priority.

    I still think that's not realistic, but she makes a compelling argument. I'll see if I can find audio or a transcript and post it.