20 October 2009

afghans again

for the past several weeks, i have tortured myself trying to come up with a solution for the shit show that is our afghanistan issue, and every time i think i've pinned down my opinion, i talk myself out of it. or i let others talk me out of it.

you see, i am torn first by limited resources. and then by other things. and other people.

putting aside things like money, loss of life, a commitment the american people aren't likely to buy into, and the fact that afghanistan is an historical graveyard of empires, if i had my druthers, we'd go all in. we would commit to building a democratic afghanistan. and we'd do it by empowering the local 'warlords' to become leaders and governors.

we'd help them build roads and farms, schools and hospitals, and give them the tools they need to form a more perfect union. one in which more than 28% of its population is educated, where women have access to equality, education, and opportunity, where farmers can farm something other than opium, and where we can stabilize pakistan's neighbor. we would, in a sense, organize afghan communities.

whether or not there's a strong central government a la the united states of america, or whether there's something a bit more loose a la the short-lived confederate states of america (which seems more likely when considering the present afghani administration), the key is in building the local governments, as an upshot of the current political structure. and then asking them to convene for a big constitutional convention to fine-tune their current government into something more akin to effective governance.

there are those who argue we go all in, regardless of the ability of the afghans to eventually govern themselves. 'let's just go in guns a blazin and kill some terrorists,' if you will. cuz, yeah, that's a great use of our armed services and resources. just because general mcchrystal says we need 40,000 more troops, we should just send them in, without asking questions or coming up with a strategic plan, doesn't quite cut it for me. especially when reality suggests that any sort of afghanistan initiative is going to commit us to a minimum of ten years (and that's only if things go perfectly between now and 2020), with a more plausible time line of about a hundred years.

and i'm not sure how much weight i can give the argument that our end goal is meant to be about eradicating al queda and eliminating the taliban control over any part of afghanistan (at this moment in time, the taliban is gaining control in the eastern part of afhanistan, near the pakistani border, just as they gain power in pakistan. this latter development is enough to worry the bejeesus out of much of the free world that the terroristy taliban is positioned to topple president zardari and seize control of a country in possession of nuclear weapons (fucking scary, eh!?)).

i think our strategy needs to have more to do with regional stability than simply some dumb 'war on terror'. and the only way we can ensure regional stability, enough to help afghanistan learn to effectively govern itself, is to build a nation. and asking americans to sign up for a multi-generational nation-building project is not something i've quite figured out how to do (though i'm working on it).

and at what expense? (this is where that little issue of limited resources comes into play).

i mean, america hasn't had a load of debt this high since the last time we set out to rebuild the world via the marshall plan after world war ii. with china holding all the cards to our continual descent into the dungeons of debt, while our economy seems to be averting a rebound (except for those asshats on wall street whose egregious risk to main streeters is still earning them egregious sums of money (at the same time consumer lenders are spiralling down into the shit tank along with the rest of us)), can we really afford to go all in?

i dunno.

and ultimately, if i have to pick between healthcare for all americans or healthcare for all afghans...

well then, the end.


1 comment:

  1. Kelli,
    That's the crux of the dilemma President Obama faces: ideally we go all in in supporting the Afghan government but we have limited financial resources. Afghanistan is also the historical graveyard of empires, but at present, the Taliban and al Queda are forming a powerful alliance.

    Good post.