Filed under: Afghanistan
Matthew Yglesias picks up Spencer Ackerman’s note that a deployment of 30-40,000 more troops to Afghanistan would, in fact, mean deploying pretty much every available brigade we’ve got there. Yglesias then notes as a cute aside that “I don’t really think we need to worry too much about the possible lack of a contingency force to fight off an invasion from Mexico.”
I disagree! Not about an invasion from Mexico, that is; but the problem is precisely that we’re in Afghanistan because we no longer think of the military as something one employs when somebody invades the US, or even an American ally. Instead, we’re thinking of the military as something we send to failed states and zones of insurgency because they could, potentially, harbor anti-American terrorists. And that means the list of potential sites for intervention is pretty much open-ended. Heck, we could even intervene in northern Mexico, where there’s a shooting war between drug-financed criminal gangs and (probably drug-financed criminal) police and possibly murderous Mexican Federal troops that could almost as easily be described as an “insurgency” as what’s going on in Afghanistan today.
If there’s a reason why we don’t need to “worry” about such contingencies, it would be that Afghanistan today is a war of choice, which is occupying the entire energies of our military mainly because our military (particularly its ascendant counterinsurgency faction) needs a war to occupy its energies. There are people who are arguing that the main argument for allowing the military to continue what it’s on about in Afghanistan is that as long as it’s tied up there, they can’t be causing too much trouble elsewhere, particularly in Washington. Increasingly, that looks like a plausible argument to me.
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