TEXT: In a brief essay that asks the right question (can the U.S. win in Afghanistan), Michael O’Hanlon offers some quick warnings of why the U.S. might lose in Afghanistan before concluding that we should go ahead with the Afghan surge with expectations of winning. Although a piece that attempts to be balanced, its treatment of the dangers illustrates what may be the primary danger of all facing
The most glaring reality that
The second embarrassing reality that
The third embarrassing reality that Washington is glossing over relates to yet another O’Hanlon remark, that Afghans are willing to tolerate “foreigners who want to stay just long enough to help them establish a viable state, viable military and police institutions and a stronger economy — and then leave.” Accepting that statement still fails to address the crucial issue: given American policy in
In order to determine whether or not an Afghan surge makes sense, it is necessary to show how
- Avoid provoking Iraq-scale hostility by its presence;
- Find and work with Afghans who are both genuine social reform-oriented patriots and willing to cooperate with
- Convince Afghans that it is not out to colonize the place.
These are tough requirements. The American record in
Cooperating with patriots is also tough, from the perspective of both sides. Americans in a position of military strength have typically had great difficulty dealing with locals as equals. On the other hand, patriots will have their own policy preferences and are unlikely to kowtow. The result typically is that Americans (like any other occupying power) tend to become involved with lackeys who command no local respect, while the patriots end up either marginalized or radicalized.
As for convincing Afghans that
- America needs to leave Iraq, something it is not even close to doing, given the bases; the 50,000 troops Obama is leaving behind; the Persian Gulf fleet; and the 100,000-odd mercenary forces that always seem to be ignored when Washington officials publicly discuss American force levels in Iraq.
Washingtonneeds to clearly reject its goal of regime change in , one area where recent progress appears to be evident. Iran Washingtonneeds to decide that it indeed does not want to colonize , a decision that the public evidence suggests has yet definitively to have been made. Afghanistan
It seems only logical that Afghans will look at