Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Getting It Partly Right: Cohen on Afghanistan

Roger Cohen has a mostly good post this morning, arguing that the real issue is not so much the size of the American force in Afghanistan but the duration--that the US needs to be in Afghanistan for many more years to come. Absolutely. Cohen's complaints about Obama taking his time on this decision, on the other hand, are less useful or instructive.

Again, it comes down to the Afghan government. Even with this morning's news that Karzai might respect the election commission's finding of significant fraud, we will be stuck with Karzai for a good deal longer. How should we deal with this?
We have to tell Karzai, here’s a contract and either your signature is on it or your brains will be,” a British general told me. I’d say that’s about the right tone.
Ironic, coming from a country that has made some pretty bad deals with Shia in Iraq and Taliban in Afghanistan. And, of course, hard to make such a threat credible.

1 comment:

Bill Ayres said...

History worries me here. The US - and, for that matter, most great powers - don't have a particularly good track record of occupying/pacifying/maintaining a presence in (call it what you will) other far-flung parts of the world successfully. Without doing an exhaustive survey, I'm hard-pressed to think of a single instance in which such a venture ended well for the great power in question. And recent American history suggests that the hit rate of achieving strategic objectives is pretty low.

So what do we do if we're pretty sure it's a losing hand?