Democracy Arsenal

« Afghanistan Mission Creep Watch - The Condensed Version | Main | Tha Wacky, Wacky Pete Wehner »

September 01, 2009

We Have A Winner: The Worst Rationale For Staying in Afghanistan
Posted by Michael Cohen

It would be foolish on my part to expect a cogent and rational explanation from Danielle Pletka as to why the war in Afghanistan is worth fighting, but this entry defies even her low standards:

Poor Afghanistan, so lacking in succor for the self-righteous. No Jews oppressing Muslims, no apartheid, no Islamists starving Africans. Angelina Jolie doesn't seem to care. It isn't even Iraq. It's no longer the good war, the one worth winning, as it was during the elections. And when Cindy Sheehan and George Will agree it's time to get out, can a hasty retreat be far behind?

Worse still, for those who believe victory is worth achieving in Afghanistan, it's not easy to pinpoint what victory looks like. It never has been. Nonetheless, Afghanistan has both strategic and moral value to the United States. And it is wise to remember that the price of failure is horribly high. We have failed before in Afghanistan and betrayed the trust of Afghans who believed America cared about them. After two decades and the rise of an al Qaeda homeland, we paid the price.

Now we have a chance to cement a better system into place in Afghanistan. It won't be easy, and the price will continue to escalate. But it is a lie to suggest it will be possible through remote counterterrorism operations; as in Iraq, security on the ground and faith in the future are the best antidotes to insurgents. Real victory is attainable; a real Afghan national army is being slowly empowered; and though the elections were a disappointment to many, they remain a model of suffrage compared to the past. We are progressing slowly, but we are progressing. And capitulating to the Taliban is unthinkable.

Oy! I'll try to make this quick, but a few thoughts:

  • Maintaining the trust of the Afghan people is more important than say maintaining the trust of the American people.
  • Like Tony Cordesman, Danielle Pletka can't actually say what victory looks like in Afghanistan, but she has the goods on what defeat looks like.
  • Real victory is attainable but it's not easy to pinpoint what victory looks like (her words not mine).
  • Apparently it's a lie to suggest that remote CT operations would work in Afghanistan - but it's truth to suggest that counter-insurgency tactics will succeed.  
  • All the Afghan people need is "faith in the future" - that will really show the Taliban.
  • A real Afghan national army is being empowered - except of course in Helmand province where its US Marines and not Afghan soldiers fighting the Taliban.
  • The price of failure is incredibly high, but the price of success doesn't merit consideration.

I could go on, but what's the point. I tend to believe that Danielle Pletka has a string attached to her back and when Washington Post editors pull it she spits out platitudes like "Capitulating to the Taliban is unthinkable." "We are progressing slowly, but we are progressing." "Cindy Sherman." "Angelina Jolie" "Cindy Sherman." "The price of failure is horribly high."

By the way, you got to love the Washington Post. They have a debate on whether the war in Afghanistan is worth fighting and they get 5 people who think it is and 1 who doesn't.

Way to keep it even-handed guys.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference We Have A Winner: The Worst Rationale For Staying in Afghanistan:


Michael, I think in your next-to-last graf you mean "Cindy Sheehan" (that all-purpose joke-figure for the Right) not "Cindy Sherman" ( the artist )

Although, as you point out, given the cascade of cliche-laden generalities and portentious commonplaces in Pletka's piece, one might serve just as well as the other.

Too bad, because US policy towards Afghanistan (though generally buried under media BS over other matters) is a deadly serious issue, and deserves a lot more scrutiny than it has received. Though Ms. Pletka's Parade-O-Platitudes definitely falls short.

Does Afghanistan have any oil? No? Then why are we there?

Thanks for this post. Its very nice on this niche

If you are looking for a watch to buy,rolex perpetual come to solve the problem of the not-so-rich category of people. A rolex oyster perpetual can be purchased by many of us, due to the accessible price it can have. A rolex oyster perpetual date will always cost only a few hundred dollars.

Thank you for your sharing! I like i very much!

Yes, that's cool. The device is amazing! Waiting for your next one!

Both times, in the Kargil War of 1999 and the terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament in 2001, the issue was Kashmir, a conflict greatly exacerbated by the instability in Afghanistan, where many of the pro-Pakistan terrorist groups formed and trained....

Does Afghanistan have any oil? No? Then why are we there?

Just because someone doesn't love you the way you want them to ,doesn't mean they don't love you with all they have.

Why is there an entire cottage industry surrounding what some starlet wore to the beach or when she will have her baby, or who is dating who?

The comments to this entry are closed.

Sign-up to receive a weekly digest of the latest posts from Democracy Arsenal.
Powered by TypePad


The opinions voiced on Democracy Arsenal are those of the individual authors and do not represent the views of any other organization or institution with which any author may be affiliated.
Read Terms of Use