Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Afghanistan: graveyard of empires

Here's my most recent piece for Antiwar.com, harping yet again, as I will probably do repeatedly for a while, on the foolishness of getting too closely drawn in to a war in Afghanistan. As even SecDef Gates has acknowledged, the core interest of the U.S. in Afghanistan is to make sure that it isn't a base camp or staging ground for al-Qaida or other terrorist groups that could launch an attack on the U.S. It isn't, and it isn't likely to be. The Taliban and al-Qaida are separate organizations. The Taliban is Afghan in origin and composition, and it isn't going away. Al-Qaida is in Pakistan and is seriously weakened compared to pre-9/11. The U.S. should leave Afghanistan to the Afghans, after putting them on notice that serious al-Qaida activity is likely to bring a swift U.S. attack, with maybe five minutes' notice to Kabul. The Afghan regime that emerges might not even feature a central government. So what? Focus traditional intelligence and maybe a special forces strike if appropriate on the places we think al-Qaida is hiding in Pakistan. The Obama team has let it be known that it is doing a thorough reevaluation of the Afghan strategy. I hope so.

Afghanistan could very well be Obama's Vietnam if he doesn't withdraw soon.

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