Posted on December 17, 2010Here are some questions that I have for the smart people who think about this stuff when it comes to our continued presence in Afghanistan:
1) What would happen if we pick up and leave tomorrow? How many people would die in a civil war? Would Afghanistan revert back to warlordism? And how would that impact American national security?
2) What are the costs to our military and especially our military families as we stay and continue to fight there? What are we learning about the successes and failures of the COIN strategy? What else could we be spending our precious defense dollars on, but aren’t because of this war?
3) Can Afghanistan ever become another Vietnam, but in the good sense? Vietnam is now one of our biggest trading partners. If we leave or decide to stay in Afghanistan, will it ever become a trading partner for us? Do they have any natural resources, other than opium, that we can use on our market? At least, the Iraqis had plenty of oil. Do the Afghan have enough rare earth minerals to make it worth our while.
4) Does war have any moral implications? Are we doing the right thing ethically by staying? Would we be doing the right thing ethically if we leave and abandon the thousands of Afghans who rely on us for their protection?
5) Are we in the middle of a fight between Pakistan and India? Isn’t that what this is really all about? Aren’t the Pakistanis just really freaked out about Indians gaining influence in Afghanistan, and that is why the ISI is doing its best to arm the Taliban? Is there any way we could broker a peace with those two allies, and then get the hell out of there?
6) How does being in Afghanistan help us put pressure on the Iranians? How does being in Afghanistan make it easier for the Iranians to cause mischief for us?
7) Afghanistan wasn’t really an issue in the last campaign. Do we really think it will be an issue in the next campaign? The American people don’t really want us there any more, but they don’t seem to really care either. What does that say about us as a nation? Never have so few done so much for so many with so few expressing gratitude, let alone concern. Is this really fair to our troops who are fighting and dieing on our behalf?
There are no easy answers in Afghanistan. But there are bunch of really important questions that need to be confronted, one way or another.