Friedman’s Vote on Afghanistan
Columnist Thomas Friedman has put in his vote for what we should do in Afghanistan: Don’t Build Up
It is crunch time on Afghanistan, so here’s my vote: We need to be thinking about how to reduce our footprint and our goals there in a responsible way, not dig in deeper. We simply do not have the Afghan partners, the NATO allies, the domestic support, the financial resources or the national interests to justify an enlarged and prolonged nation-building effort in Afghanistan.
His view is founded in three principles:
- Whatever happens in Afghanistan must come from the Afghans themselves. We can’t force anything on the Afghans (or Iraqis) that they don’t want themselves.
- Be patient.
- The world needs us.
My last guiding principle: We are the world. A strong, healthy and self-confident America is what holds the world together and on a decent path. A weak America would be a disaster for us and the world. China, Russia and Al Qaeda all love the idea of America doing a long, slow bleed in Afghanistan. I don’t.
The short version of my reaction is that I agree.
The longer version of my reaction is that we have a much more difficult challenge ahead in Afghanistan than many seem to be crediting. We need to find a way to continue to provide support to Afghanistan over a long period of time as we did Germany, Japan, and South Korea. I believe that experience suggests that support will only continue as long as we have troops in Afghanistan. Consequently, I believe that we need to find a way to maintain some troops in Afghanistan, albeit fewer than we have now and with a significantly more limited mission than our current forces have.
I welcome my fellow OTB contributors updating this post with their own views on this subject.