Revisiting that speech from over a year ago. The main reason we are there:
“So I want the American people to understand that we have a clear and focused goal: to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future.”
It’s of vital national security interest. Our troops in Afghanistan didn’t often have the resources nor equipment to do the job effectively, as they were being deflected to Iraq. Our mission wasn’t as clear, and this speech and re-direction of policy was supposed to change that. Obama focused on garnering European and international support (which is still lukewarm at best), and has tried to have our troops work more with the people. But in Afghanistan, we know that the people are very tribal, geographically isolated, very poor (as well as having gone through decades of armed conflict), and united, generally, around Islam, with often notoriously corrupt governance. There is also free-flowing border with Pakistan, over which Bin-Laden likely slipped across, and which is key (AfPak) to any success we should have.
This brings us to another main reason we are there: to promote our ideals and values, and so often the reasons that groups for aid, peace, human rights, NGO’s etc. are there, and I think an approach that Obama is more committed to, and of course, could lead into other long-term conflicts:
“For the Afghan people, a return to Taliban rule would condemn their country to brutal governance, international isolation, a paralyzed economy, and the denial of basic human rights to the Afghan people — especially women and girls. The return in force of al Qaeda terrorists who would accompany the core Taliban leadership would cast Afghanistan under the shadow of perpetual violence.”
The women and girls thing is a nice touch (important, I think to garner political support at home) and Obama also seeks to recognize that many European countries and others have some ideological interest and deeper reasons to be there in Afghanistan (if not financial, strategic, nor security, though European countries have a security interest).
So, where are we now? How does AfPak fit into Obama’s new Security Report?
Any thoughts and comments are welcome.
Related On This Site: What is the plan for Kandahar? Repost-From Michael Yon: ‘The Battle For Kandahar’…From NPR: ‘U.S Troops Fill NATO Training Gaps In Afghanistan’…From CSIS: ‘How the US Must Expand and Redefine International Cooperation in Fighting Terrorism’…From Newsweek: ‘Meeting Of The Diplomats’
Dexter Filkins Book On Afghanistan And Iraq: “The Forever War”…Sarah Chayes On Afghanistan In The Boston Review: Days Of Lies And Roses
Also: From The American Interest Online: Francis Fukuyama On Samuel Huntington…what about our ideas in India, as it pursues stable democracy?: From YouTube: ‘Commotion Over India’s Women’s Bill’