Friday, October 8, 2010

Ambivalent Now About Afghanistan?

With stories like this, how could I not be?  I am speaking to an Islamic studies group at McGill this morning about Afghanistan, and I am not sure anymore about how I answer the question: should we stick around?  I am still concerned about the consequences of a departure for the people of Afghanistan as a civil war and then Taliban government would probably ensue and the effects on Pakistan.  But unless the surge has really made a difference in creating more order in more places (jury is still out on that), it does seem like sunk costs become the argument and a lousy argument at that. 

The Woodward book seems to suggest (at least as far as folks who have read it say) the military boxed in Obama.  I am still of the belief that Obama might have given the military what it wanted to set the stage for a big policy reversal in the next year.  But that is perhaps wishful thinking.  Muddling through seems to be the policy option that is the least worst, but, again, that is not exactly a ringing call for billions of dollars and the loss of life to be incurred.

All I do know for certain is that abandoning Afghanistan will be horrible for Afghans in both the medium and long term. 

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