La Riposte

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Afghan Sovereignty vs. U.S. Interests

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Bret Stephens claims that allowing the Taliban to negotiate with the Afghan government “risks turning Afghanistan into another Vietnam.” 

But it is worth noting that 3 decades after the US withdrawal from that Asian state, the country is unified, secure, enjoying 20+ years of strong economic growth, becoming a popular tourist destination, and is even a port of call for US warships operating in the area.

Stephens still assesses that the war in Afghanistan is imminently winnable, but it seems he’s neglected to read the recent headlines in his own paper, which show that as NATO forces shift their attentions to the South, the Taliban are quietly taking over provinces in the North. A much-vaunted offensive earlier against the small town of Marjah came to naught, so it’s hard to be optimistic about the current push to control Kandahar.

More disturbing than Mr. Stephens apparent naiveté regarding the conditions on the ground is the real basis for his opposition to negotiations;
What happens in the event that Mr. Karzai is prepared to accept terms unacceptable to the U.S., such as sharing power with Mullah Omar? Ultimately, we are in Afghanistan to defend core U.S. interests, not the whims of its capricious president. 
Ahh, yes, Mr. Stephens. When a puppet government fails to dance to the tune of its foreign master, what’s a beleaguered superpower to do? And what are these “core interests” that we are defending ? The survival of our Nation is hardly at stake; neither is our economic growth, or our national culture. And the argument that Afghanistan represents a security risk because it ostensibly trained the 9-11 terrorists is as trite now as it was a decade ago – the state where those hijackers obtained the training they needed to carry out the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon wasn’t Afghanistan – it was Florida.

Stephens believes the only way to proceed is to halt negotiations and deliver “a series of decisive military blows” that would ostensibly force the Taliban to end the war on U.S. terms. But why should the terms be set by America? Isn’t it an “International Security Assistance Force” that’s opposing the Talibs? Shouldn’t the terms be theirs? No and no. Any negotiations to end the war should take place between the primary actors; the current Afghan government and their Taliban opponents.

The U.S. and other international actors may attempt to shape those negotiations through political pressure on the Afghan government and through military pressure on the Taliban, but in the final analysis, any decision reached by those two parties, however distasteful it may be to the U.S. and its ISAF allies must be respected – or another blow against national sovereignty will have been resoundingly struck.

No comments:

Post a Comment