Dave Schuler had a great post over at Outside The Beltway earlier this week about the ongoing debate over America’s long-term objectives in Afghanistan and made this excellent point:
In 2003 our strategic objectives in Afghanistan were six:
- Eliminate the Al Qaeda network in Afghanistan.
- Convince or compel the Afghan Taliban to end its support for Al Qaeda.
- Demonstrate that the United States is not at war with the Afghan people or Islam.
- Demonstrate U. S. resolve in the war on terrorism.
- Build international support for the war in Afghanistan.
- Stabilize Afghanistan following the fighting.
At the time I argued against these objectives on the grounds that 1) and 2) weren’t worth doing in the light of the ease of the network decamping into Pakistan, the longer we spent in-country the more difficult 3) would become, 4) could be achieved by other means, 5) had probably already been achieved to as great a degree as possible, and 6) was probably not possible, at least not in a timeframe and at a cost acceptable to the American people, among others.
Now we have accomplished 1), 2), and 4) and the remaining objectives are little better off than they were in 2003. I would very much like to see a statement from the Obama Administration of its current strategic objectives in Afghanistan and how the tactics being used relate to those objectives.
As we all would, I think.
Now that it’s clear that both the Taliban and al Qaeda have decamped into Pakistan and appear to be under the protection of at least some elements of the Pakistani military and/or intelligence bureaucracy, it would seem that dealing with a potential Islamist insurgency in the only Islamic nation with a nuclear weapon should be more important to America’s strategic interests than trying to introduce democracy to a nation that has never known it and which has resisted foreign “reform” attempts from three of history’s greatest powers.