Our Schizophrenic Afghanistan Policy
Tom Friedman’s column on Afghanistan epitomizes the shouting match over our policy with respect to the conduct of the war there among isolationists, foreign policy realists, and interventionists:
I confess, I find it hard to come to Afghanistan and not ask: Why are we here? Who cares about the Taliban? Al Qaeda is gone. And if its leaders come back, well, that’s why God created cruise missiles.
But on the other hand:
In grand strategic terms, I still don’t know if this Afghan war makes sense anymore. I was dubious before I arrived, and I still am. But when you see two little Afghan girls crouched on the front steps of their new school, clutching tightly with both arms the notebooks handed to them by a U.S. admiral — as if they were their first dolls — it’s hard to say: “Let’s just walk away.” Not yet.
There’s something that unites these two apparently contradictory quotes that bracket the column. Sending little girls to school in Afghanistan or Pakistan is just as deadly to the traditional cultures there as a cruise missile and I strongly suspect that those who want to preserve and promote those traditions understand that very well.
It’s not just the U. S. troops they want out of their countries but the Christian missionaries and the women’s rights groups and the other foreign NGO’s promoting technological, economic, and social change, preventing them from realizing their own ideas of paradise which seem to many Westerners a lot more like hell.