Tuesday, February 3, 2009

"Afghanistan: A Dream That Will Not Come True"

Respected independent war correspondent Michael You sent out this letter to those who subscribe to his online newsletter. Michael has for the past four years covered the long war in Iraq and Afghanistan. He saw the light at the end of the tunnel in Iraq before most had rubbed the sand out of their eyes. Now he offers this stark assessment of Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is in a sad state. Some folks are worried about "disturbing trends" in Afghanistan. I was concerned about disturbing trends back in early 2006. But that concern is over. My concern is more grave; that we will completely lose the war if we set expectations too high. We should downgrade our expectations for Afghanistan, and what we are willing to invest there. The world is a big place and there are other problems at hand. Iran just launched a satellite to orbit, for example. Afghanistan is such a sorry place that it will require at least decades severe effort to become half-way presentable, and likely a century to bring to anything respectable. In Iraq, the light at the end of the tunnel was always bright (except during the civil war), and now Iraq is already out of the tunnel and blinking in the light of a new day. But Afghanistan is a national Humpty Dumpty. The best I see is the very distant, very dim, twinkling of a star. Or maybe it's just a phosphene and not a star at all. My humble recommendation is to downgrade all expectations for Afghanistan. Treat the patient as best we can, and concern ourselves with more important matters while striving not to allow Afghanistan to again become a launching pad for international terror. President Obama should not stake our national reputation on the idea that we will achieve our current more ambitious goals. Decrease expectations, and work on more important matters such as the world economy and other more serious military threats. Afghanistan is not worth so much effort when most of NATO has no heart and is virtually worthless. Eventually we'll likely end up alone, or mostly alone, holding the bag, while Europe goes home to its wine and beer.


Michael Yon

And this from Bruce Fein in the Washington Times:
The sepulcher of President Barack Obama's greatness lies before him — Afghanistan.

His scheduled doubling of United States troops there to more than 60,000 could bring his presidency to ruin. The twin justifications for dispatching American soldiers to fight and die in a war against the Taliban to protect a wasteland of corruption, tribalism and warlords are unpersuasive: to prevent a second edition of Sept. 11, 2001; and, to transform Afghanistan into a recognizable democracy featuring human rights and the rule of law. The war is making the United States less safe by squandering resources better employed at home and creating enemies by knowingly or unintentionally killing civilians. Furthermore, an Afghan democracy for the indefinite future is unattainable.

Read more: Afghan Sepulcher?

Over the next few months, decisions will have to be made as to whether we are willing to invest a century to try and rebuild what Michael Yon calls a Guant, Thorny Bush. The President, General Pretraus and eventually, we the people of this democracy must decide our course of action.

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