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Monday, September 21, 2009
September 21, 2009
Newspapers are warning of possible "mission failure" in Afghanistan unless we send more troops there. Failure would mean, presumably, the Taliban winning and Afghans--granted, ones we don't like--running their country. A more interesting question is: what would "mission success" look like? We presumably support Hamid Karzai's government. But everyone agrees it is weak and crooked. So that's not success. Elections? We had one of those and it hasn't helped much, mostly because everyone thinks the Karzai folks rigged the vote. I suppose a non-Taliban, honest government would constitute a success, but where in Afghanistan could you find one of those. Come to that, how many Americans could find Afghanistan on a map? Even a big map. Sometimes you have to accept imperfect outcomes. If we just left, what would happen? For one thing, young Americans wouldn't be getting killed over there any more. For another, the Taliban would take power. Would they kill a lot of their own people? Probably not. Would women's rights take a beating. Probably yes. But is that our responsibility? Probably not; we are not supposed to impose our culture on the rest of the world. The Afghans have managed to stay independent for a long time. The British couldn't keep them as a colony; the Soviets had even less success. Could the Taliban launch an attack on the United States? No, they don't have ICBMs and all that intercontinental stuff. Could they invade? No again. Don't have the navy for it. And over time, we might end up talking to each other. Vietnam and the U.S. have embassies in other's countries now. Why not, in a generation or two, do the same thing in Afghanistan? What we're doing now doesn't seem to be working very well for either side. Why not try something new, like coming home?