Monday, October 18, 2004
Afghanistan is a long way from the Jeffersonian ideal, but the progress there, especially in the last year, has been remarkable. At least two things may be said of it. First, we will have to stick with Afghanistan through more than one election cycle. In that part of the world, "one man, one vote, one time" is more the rule than the exception, and the real test of any legitimate government is whether it can replace itself with equal legitimacy.
Second, the United States has, temporarily at least, achieved its strategic objectives and confounded both its critics and its enemies. The strategic objectives included the displacement, if not the destruction, of al Qaeda. Years too late, we have turned Afghanistan from a genuine "haven" for terrorists (in the oft-repeated phrase of the Kerry campaign) complete with training camps turning out thousands of new enemy soldiers into a place where Western soldiers hunt down the enemy and kill them. The inability of the Taliban and their allies to disrupt these elections -- which they had repeatedly threatened to do with all the usual rivers-of-blood rhetoric -- is strong evidence that we have massively reduced the destructive power of the Islamists in and around Afghanistan.
Of course, our other strategic objective is the political and military encirclement of Iran, which we began with the invasion of Afghanistan and completed with the occupation in Iraq. I believe it is the case that there are American troops -- officially or otherwise -- in every country that borders Iran. While it is not clear to me precisely what policy opportunities derive from that fact, it clearly gives us options for dealing with Iran that we did not have before September 11.
Enjoy that conference - it can be really helpful to step back from Blogorama for a few days...
Regarding the good news out of Afghanistan:
1. The vote went a lot better (from what I've read) than anyone expected.
2. Hamed Karzai is a sensible person who knows how to work the international angles necessary to continue the much-needed foreign money flow.
3. Imagine how much more good news might be coming out of Afghanistan if we weren't expending so many resources in Iraq...
4. Unprecendented Opium growth and processing into heroin.
5. Warlordism runs the vast majority of the nation.
6. Taliban remnants all over the show.
I'm not trying to be a Negative Nancy here, but let's not gild the poopile either. George W. Bush's foreign policy priorities have little to do with a successful Afghanistan - I believe he'd like to see it succeed, but he's not going to commit the resources necessary to ensure it.
After we paid for our kids child summer camp we found it tough to recover! I totally agree with you!