Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Strategic Interests

The avuncular "Stache' Grande" (with like the most biggest stache ever) expertly zooms out on Great Satan's hyperpuissance with an essential hello RE: the AF part of AFPAK

Administration sources are leaking that 44 is considering withdrawing all American troops before Dec. 31, 2013, one year early, without leaving even a small, residual force in the country.

Such a decision would simply accelerate an already badly misguided policy. Faster draw-downs in Afghanistan are bad enough but even worse is 44's inability or unwillingness to see the inevitably broader adverse consequences.

Being very practical, citizens know they have more pressing concerns than mastering arcane foreign-policy issues. Instead, they elect presidents they expect will defend the country, explaining and justifying sacrifices we are called upon to make, including foreign wars, to protect our interests and way of life. When a president is largely silent about foreign threats, voters logically assume (if incorrectly, in Obama's case) that the risks are minimal and need not concern them. And when the loyal opposition doesn't oppose, why shouldn't Americans conclude, for example, that war in Afghanistan is unnecessary and should be rapidly concluded?

Thus, the failure is not with the American people for not grasping the strategic significance of defeating the Taliban and al-Qaida in their bastions along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border but the failure of elected officials in Washington. Fortunately, however, this failure can be corrected by finding leaders prepared to explain comprehensibly just what is at stake in this long conflict.

To begin, we are conducting “defense at a distance” in Afghanistan, fighting the terrorists there so they cannot reconstitute themselves and gravely threaten us at home, as on Sept. 11, 2001. U.S. and NATO withdrawal seems nearly certain to lead to Karzai's government falling, with the Taliban re-establishing control and inviting al-Qaida back to Afghanistan as partners. At that point, Afghanistan would again be a base for international terrorism, as we experienced on 9/11, precisely the reasons we overthrew the Taliban. And, tragically, we will have given up all we sacrificed to prevent just such a recurrence of the terrorist threat.

Second, we now recognize an added strategic threat if the Taliban retake control in Kabul, namely the increased likelihood that Pakistani Taliban and other radicals could seize control in that country. That would mean both another base for global terror attacks and also Pakistan's substantial arsenal of nuclear weapons falling into terrorist hands, including those in Iran. Terrorists would have access to nuclear weapons they could detonate in cities around the world, rendering decades of counterproliferation efforts meaningless.

These are the strategic interests in defeating the Taliban that justify our leaving forces in Afghanistan and continuing active military operations against them for as long as it takes. This is not the same as “nation building,” which rarely works in practice and which is also truly unpopular with American voters, who see it as a gravy train for ungrateful foreigners. We are not in Afghanistan to benefit the Afghans, but to benefit ourselves.

Thus explained, Americans are far more likely to support the necessary war against terrorism in Afghanistan. Of course, if our political “leaders” fail to make this case, we will learn the lesson only when the terrorists attack us again, perhaps this time with nuclear weapons.

We can avoid this outcome but it requires leadership plainly missing from 44. The question is whether Republicans have the capacity and the will to fill in the void 44 has left.

Pic - "Leading from behind"


Quentin said...

This is awesome!