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Sunday, October 24, 2010


Friday AM I was sitting around with some of my more "liberal" associates, working issues regarding homelessness, when homeless veterans came up.  The subject of war followed and all the killing that goes on.  So, I asked if we should pull out of Afghanistan.  The consensus was that we should.  So, as I was reading Bob Woodward's new book, Obama's Wars this afternoon I was struck by this line:
"I think Afghanistan is doable, it's not sellable," Harvey concluded.
The context behind the quote is that it was made by a Derek Harvey, a then 54-year-old retired Army Colonel of Intelligence and now a DIA analyst, who was working on a review of Afghanistan initiated by the Bush Administration and winding up as the Obama Team was taking over.

And, that is the question.  Are you buying Afghanistan?

An even better question would be "What is our strategic objective in Afghanistan?"

Regards  —  Cliff

  Actually, I am the classic liberal and they are all more along the line of Fabian Socialists.  I mean that in the nicest possible way.
  16% of the way through, toward the end of Chapter 7.


Craig H said...

Taking a "by its fruits" perspective, the number of civilian casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan both point to definitive conclusions that we should be in neither place.

The New Englander said...

I took the question not as one for 2001 but as one for 2010.

I would like to see things go into a more Philippines/Colombia counterinsurgency model eventually. In other words, we can provide materiel support, training, and some "catastrophic insurance" without having to make guys from the 10th Mountain Div. sleep in the Af-Pak mountains.

If we were to suddenly just withdraw all soldiers, diplomats, contracted support, etc. in one fell swoop, I believe it is nearly certain that you would see a Taliban re-takeover of the entire country, with all the atrocities that happened the first time but on a much larger scale.

Another thing to consider is the public health issue -- since western aid and medical relief workers were allowed back into Afghanistan in 2001, it's estimated that hundreds of thousands of Afghan lives who would have been lost to preventable causes like typhus, dysentery, diarrhea, TB, etc. have been saved.

If a Taliban-like government came back to power, banned all western aid/medical people and their accoutrements, it's certain that over the long haul you're looking at millions of civilian deaths. This has been noted all across the political spectrum, even by liberal columnists like Bill Keller.