Thursday, July 17, 2008

Further thoughts on Afghanistan


I have mixed feelings about Afghanistan.

On the one hand, I think leaving Afghanistan now means accepting an Al Qaeda stronghold in that region, and a base of operations from which future attacks against us might be initiated.

On the other hand, I am not sure that our security interests are being served by the militaristic strategies we have employed since 2002 in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Clearly, the cost of these wars is already doing far worse damage to America than the attacks of 9/11 -- in this, bin Laden has been eclipsed by Dick Cheney as America's worst enemy.

What I think makes sense is to get out of Iraq quickly - in less than 12 months after President Obama's inauguration, and to ramp up forces in Afghanistan as they are removed from Iraq. For those 12 months, and possibly 12 more, we should press Al Qaeda in Waziristan, with the support of Pakistani intelligence, and provide assistance to Karzai in suppressing the Taliban insurgency.

At the end of two years, we should remove ourselves from Afghanistan.

Our goal should be to emerge from Afghanistan and Waziristan with better intelligence connections and resources than we had going in 6 years ago, a strong network and partnership with Pakistani intelligence and military, substantive programs in place to enhance our relationship with both countries going forward, and having severely knocked down the Taliban and Al Qaeda threat.

We might even find Osama bin Laden.

This program has only been approached half-heartedly by the Bushies, and though I would not want to be there for 15 years, I think we should seriously consider the good we might do if we really worked at it for 24 months.

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posted at 7:08:00 AM by Neil

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