Saturday, February 21, 2009

"Obama's War"

Kelso's Corner points to this graphic (pdf) from the Washington Post detailing what it calls "Obama's War": the conflict in Afghanistan and Pakistan to which Obama has committed to add troops, even as he moves to remove them from Iraq. Here's an inset:

The graphic, by Gene Thorp and Patterson Clark, has lots of graphs and charts which describe the all-around quagmirriffic situation there. It's striking how much worse the situation has gotten in Afghanistan over the years. Why, it's almost as if going to war in Iraq distracted the US from the fight against the actual people who were responsible for the September 11th attacks.

But it's far from obvious that throwing more troops at Afghanistan will be enough to resolve the problems there. It seems likely to me - and bear in mind that I'm a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and also the editor of Foreign Policy - that in the long run, the war in Afghanistan is as unwinnable as the one in Iraq. The US and NATO have a moral responsibility to limit the suffering and ensure the maximum freedom of the people there, as well as a profound security interest in seeing that Al Qaeda is kept in check. But delivering actual long-term security and stability in the region, with democratic, pro-western governments in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, may be a bridge too far. What, then, should the goals be? I'm not really sure, but hopefully Obama et al. are acting on some pretty clear and concrete conception of what they want the outcome to be. Otherwise Afghanistan could degenerate into Iraq II. And that would be awful for about thirty billion different reasons.

Thank you for joining me for another edition of "pontificating on subjects I know next to nothing about."

By the way, there's been very little military action in the area around Parachinar, Pakistan. Don't they know that that's where bin Laden is hiding?