Saturday, December 5, 2009

Problem avoidance

Ex-CIA officer Graham Fuller wrote in the Huffington Post about why the United States should de-escalate in Afghanistan:
India is the primary geopolitical threat to Pakistan, not Afghanistan. Pakistan must therefore always maintain Afghanistan as a friendly state. India furthermore is intent upon gaining a serious foothold in Afghanistan -- in the intelligence, economic and political arenas -- that chills Islamabad.
(Link to his May 10, 2009 article).
This line may be straight out of General Kayani's diary. It accurately describes the perception in the leadership in Pakistan.

Unfortunately, Fuller presents this "geopolitical threat" from India as an objective truth. As Shashi Tharoor said last month in an interview, Pakistan has nothing that India seeks.

Fuller's article is also dishonest because it leaves out an obvious part of the equation: Pakistan's continuing support of Islamist militas as leverage against its neighbors. If, as Fuller suggests, America draws down its military footprint in Afghanistan, then the Taliban will come back with Pakistan's support, either overt or tacit. Afghanistan will return to the pre-9/11 clutches of the Taliban--- a hell-hole for ordinary Afghans, and where the 9/11 attacks were hatched.

The problem with the knee-jerk anti-war movement is that is avoids the truth and seeks to bring us back into our shells. That's no way to engage with the world.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A bankruptcy of logic

Of all the people complaining about President Obama's Afghan war escalation, Tom Friedman takes the cake:
Iraq was about "the war on terrorism." The Afghanistan invasion, for me, was about the "war on terrorists." To me, it was about getting bin Laden and depriving Al Qaeda of a sanctuary—- period. I never thought we could make Afghanistan into Norway-— and even if we did, it would not resonate beyond its borders the way Iraq might.

To now make Afghanistan part of the "war on terrorism"—- i.e., another nation-building project-— is not crazy. It is just too expensive...
(Here is his Op-Ed in the New York Times).

So, let me get this straight: the war in Iraq, launched on false premises and so badly executed, was a necessary nation-building project? And the war in Afghanistan, being escalated by Obama precisely to help "get Bin Laden and depriving Al Qaeda of a sanctuary" is too expensive? This doesn't make any sense.

I think I prefer the knee-jerk anti-war crowd to this kind of sophistry. At least the anti-war people are consistent.