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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Thomas Friedman's - Op-Ed Today

Two blogs in one day! I know crazy! I must have nothing to do!


So Tom Friedman is an interesting columnist at the Times. He's liberally minded, but has an independent streak, and for several years during the Bush era, was pretty uncritical at a time when that sort of thing could have really made a difference.

But he has a piece today which pretty much sums up my opinion on Afghanistan. And Iraq. This will piss off the gf--she's a you break it you, you buy it kind of gal. The buzz on Afghanistan this month from a ton of people ostensibly in the "know" is that the real reason Afghanistan isn't getting any better is that the American presence isn't large enough and that the only a solid, longterm commitment from the US can achieve any lasting stability. NPR and Charlie Rose have been beating that drum to death.

First point: America is a democracy, far far away from Afghanistan. Even if we sent them half a million troops tomorrow--there could never be a firm committment. It would come up every two years at the very least. Foreign policing actions are black holes with a very low rate of success, and are almost unilaterally rife with corruption. So if the venture cannot succeed without a firm committment, and such a commitment is genuinely, logically, impossible--then it stands to reason that we should leave.

Second point: To those that say leaving Afghanistan and Iraq in such a terrible way would inflict a terrible human cost--you're right. But is it so much better now? Sure there may not be any massacres, but the bombs keep blowing up, and the taliban doesn't quit--and I'm not sure that a firm commitment would change that, so what's to gain but more death, and waste.

I spend a lot of time on these pages talking about caring for other people, and so I want you to understand that I do not think I am being hypocritical. But religous fundamentalism is beyond my ken. The handmaidens of fundamentalism, poverty, ignorance and cynicism, are too strong in these places.

The United States needs to regroup at the very least. This half ass continued engagement will be the end of us.

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