The great Afghanistan policy debate underway in Washington shines a light on what inadequate or faulty policy decisions can mean when they mature. In this case, 8 years have been essentially wasted along with hundreds of billions of dollars. The US, as part of a NATO force, invaded Afghanistan and toppled the Taliban government in order to root out al Qaeda. So far, so good. Unfortunately that was as far as it went and where it stopped.
The Bush Administration set the policy objective of pursuing al Qaeda and Taliban insurgents with one hand and helped set up a new central Afghan government with the other, both on a shoe string. That was a lot to do, yet early into the Afghan effort, Bush and Cheney decided to invade and occupy Iraq, and that was not necessary. In the country where terrorists thrived, poppies grew and government bribes were collected as a matter of daily business in Afghanistan, and life went on. Is there a question why the situation today is so fragile?
The US military command has now come forward with a policy of sorts. Focus on protecting the population or risk losing control of Afghanistan. Presumably protection includes eradicating poppy fields and ending the widespread graft and corruption too. This policy proposal raises all sorts of questions.
- Why should the Military be recommending a policy that seems so obvious and so much the normal product of the State Department?
- Why should we expect the US to succeed in Afghanistan when no outside force has before, including the Russians and the colonial English?
- How can the US support an indeterminate effort while facing a $10 trillion deficit over the next 10 years?
- Why should the US care about Afghan’s future government and most importantly, why is this America’s problem anyways?
Poppies, unbridled extremism, and regional instability are all sure to follow an American withdrawal. But aren’t these, all nation’s problems?