Filed under: Afghanistan, World | Tags: Afghanistan, Al-Qaeda, Anne Applebaum, Barack Obama, Pakistan, Taliban, United States, War in Afghanistan
Equally universal (and bipartisan) are the complaints that the war’s aims are unclear or unrealistic. A British defense official resigned last week on the grounds that he no longer believed the nation would accept the government’s justifications for the war, which have ranged from “fighting terrorists” to controlling heroin exports. Tom Friedman demanded to know “what it will cost, how much time it could take, [and] what U.S. interests make it compelling.” Others grumble that we should be focused on the “real” problems, such as Pakistan, or on an “achievable” solution, whatever that may be.
Which is, when you think about it, all rather strange, since the goals of the war have never been in doubt in any European or North American capital. “Winning” means we leave with a minimally acceptable government in place; “losing” means the Taliban takes over and al-Qaida comes back—and no one has ever pretended success would be easy.
We have a minimally acceptable government in place, and the Taliban isn’t coming back to power. Keeping them from doing so might require a bit of bombing support and some military aid to the government and associated warlords. Is Applebaum saying we can pretty much leave now? Obviously not. Rather, she does not really understand or believe in her own war aims, and has not thought out what they actually imply.
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