What the uber neocon derives from the Afghan mess

Sage McLaughlin writes:

With regard to the latest wave of rioting and savagery from our friends and allies in Afghanistan, these comments from Charles Krauthammer (which I lifted from NRO, here) are remarkable:

I think the brave talk out the Defense Department [yesterday] that it will not alter our strategy is simply bravado.

If you cannot trust the advisors whom the Americans are working with and who are the ones who will be taking over when we leave, then the entire strategy of the transfer of authority and power is in jeopardy.

It means they have to recalculate as to whether, how and when the Americans and the others—the Europeans—can actually leave.

What Krauthammer is intimating here is that, far from calling our entire involvement in Afghanistan into question, this most recent expression of Mohammedan unreason only calls into question whether the Western powers should be preparing to leave at all. The thing that he is calling into question is not our attempt to make Afghanistan into a functioning country free from Taliban militancy, but our plans to “hand the war over” to the national Afghan forces. (Of course, the idea that any Afghan government will carry on our war after we leave has always been lunacy.)

So Krauthammer is a neocon holdout to the very last, even as the Republican rank and file are starting to abandon ship. Faced with clear evidence that we are never going to Westernize that God-forsaken place, because one cannot win over such people if our entire effort can be undone by the inadvertent disposal of several books, Krauthammer concludes that the question is now whether and how America can leave at all. Having debated these issues with some average joes who are suckers for the Grand Democracy Project, I’ve found that devotion to the idea of global (and especially Muslim) democratic nation-building is almost a psychosis—at some point you have to write people off as unreachable by any evidence or argument. So it is with Charles Krauthammer.

LA replies:

But there is a logic to it. If we, as Krauthammer believes, have vital national security interests in Afghanistan, namely the suppression of the Taliban and al Qaeda, and if the Afghans are too hostile to us for us to pass on the job to them, it follows that we must stay there indefinitely ourselves in order to continue with the job and guard our national security.

- end of initial entry -

March 1

LA continues:

Far from declaring that we must continue with the nation-building project no matter what, Krauthammer seems to be implying that we should give up on nation-building in Afghanistan, give up on our Afghan “allies,” and just fight the Taliban and al Qaeda on our own.

Which in turn suggests that the U.S. should keep its forces indefinitely in Afghanistan against the desire of the Afghans.

Which in turn suggests that the U.S. henceforth has not two, but three enemies in Afghanistan against which it must continue to wage war: al Qaeda, the Taliban, and the Afghan government and people.

Sage McLaughlin replies to LA:

I hadn’t looked at it that way, but maybe that’s exactly what he meant. If so, he’s more deranged than I thought.

Years ago I doubted whether it made sense, as you suggested, that we could just blast the Taliban or whomever every time they became a threat, rather than trying to “deny them safe haven” by turning Afghanistan into a place inhospitable to Islamic movements like theirs. As time goes on, it becomes more and more obvious that we have no other viable option. It also has the advantage of keeping our options open, staying nimble in our response to each threat as it arises (as opposed to developing a single fighting doctrine that enables the enemy to adapt while we try to keep up).

I spent years surrounded by people who were supposed to be experts on these things, people who had spent their whole lives immersed in strategy and military doctrine, and you were ahead of all of them. That tells me our problem is not, and never was, tactical or methodological, but ideological. Like the Germans throughout the 20th century, we field the best-equipped, most competently trained military on earth, and use it to the most wasteful and strategically counterproductive effect. (Not to make too close an analogy, of course, but I’m not the first one to notice this connection.)

Posted by Lawrence Auster at February 28, 2012 02:26 PM | Send

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