Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Why VFP tied themselves to the White House Fence or What's Missing in the Latest Afghanistan Review | Stephen M. Walt

What's Missing in the Latest Afghanistan Review | Stephen M. Walt

We saw the heart felt demonstration against War by VFP members last week. Now look at this article analyzing the facts and consequences of the Afghanistan war which is becoming the Pakistan war with a little history thrown in to remind us that we have been this way before and it did not turn out well. by Stephen Walt:

The article begins with these two New York Times articles:
"U.S. Will Widen War on Militants Inside Pakistan" and "Germany Will Begin Afghan Exit Next Year."

Walt questions the Policy Review as being more politics than reality:
what's missing in all this role-playing was a clear and convincing statement of costs and benefits. For all the talk of defeating al Qaeda (which isn't in Afghanistan any more), or preventing "safe havens," the administration scrupulously avoided the question of whether the money spent, lives lost, and presidential time consumed is worth it in terms of advancing core American interests.

If you look at the first headline above it is clear that we are now fighting in Pakistan. Chapter 14 already has Memorial Day tombstones dedicated to US soldiers who died in Pakistan. Walt's more strategic take:
the news that the United States intends to expand the war even further into Pakistan is especially worrisome. On the one hand, it suggests that the administration has figured out that it cannot ever win in Afghanistan so long as the Taliban have a safe haven across the border (and the tacit or active support of some key elements in the Pakistani military). But as Anatol Lieven notes in The Nation, unleashing additional violence in Pakistan could have long-term destabilizing consequences that would be far more significant than whatever ultimately happens in Afghanistan.

He also brings in a chilling historical parallel here:
And it is hard not to see echoes of Nixon's decision to invade Cambodia in 1970, in a failed attempt to eradicate Viet Cong bases there. The two situations are hardly identical, but both illustrate the tendency for wars to expand in both the scope and extent of violence, especially when they aren't going well.

In any case it will mean for our chapter and for the American people that there will be more tombstones next year honoring the dead from Pakistan. I still hold im my memory an Army pilot friend from Vietnam who flew into Cambodia and whose plane went down in flames and remains MIA.

If history holds true the people of Pakistan will pay an even higher price. Walt remembers what the result of US intervention for the Cambodian people:

Let's not forget that the invasion of Cambodia in 1970 also helped destabilize that country, and helped usher in the brutal rule of the Khmer Rouge. I'm not predicting a similar outcome here, but that example is a cruel reminder that military force is a crude instrument whose ultimate effects are difficult to anticipate in advance.

And finally the long view:
Decades from now, historians will look back and wonder how the United States allowed itself to get bogged down in a long and costly war to determine the political fate of landlocked country whose entire gross national product is about a quarter the size of the New York city budget. And when they reflect on the fact that the United States did this even after a major financial collapse and in the face of persistent budget deficits and macroeconomic imbalances, they will shake their heads in amazement.

No comments: