Terry Glavin on Afghanistan....
Glavin does it again and writes a zinger on Afghanistan and the United States. What makes this article so astounding is the response from Michael Walzer - who uses a conservative argument against Glavin. Gee, he wrings his hand on budgetary matters much like Ron Paul would!
OBAMA’S INAUGURAL language was active and direct: “You cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.” It only took a few months for Obama to change his phrasing to the passive tense: the Taliban “must be defeated.” By his December 2009 West Point speech, Obama no longer talked about defeating the Taliban. The point was now merely to “diminish” the Taliban and deny them the ability to overthrow the government in Kabul. For good measure, Obama also let the Taliban know just how long it would take them to outlast the coming storm: eighteen months.Please read the whole piece and response from Walzer and the rejoinder from Glavin. If you want principled arguments on Afghanistan, then just look up Terry Glavin.
Along the way, the Obama administration jettisoned Afghan democracy as the point of it all. It’s no longer required; something like a functioning state of some kind will do. In his June 22 speech, Obama was clear. “The goal that we seek is achievable, and can be expressed simply: no safe-haven from which al Qaeda or its affiliates can launch attacks against our homeland, or our allies.” All well and good for America and its allies, but for Afghans? “America will join initiatives that reconcile the Afghan people, including the Taliban.”
Reconciliation with the Taliban, then, is now what victory in Afghanistan is supposed to look like. That is the lofty ideal for which the United States expects Afghans to risk their lives and tolerate all those NATO bombs accidentally falling on civilians. It’s the thing America’s NATO partners are expected to continue to send their soldiers to die for in Afghanistan.
There’s nothing like lowering your standards to make them easier to uphold. It didn’t help that in his June 22 speech, Obama cited the usual qualifiers about how talks with the Taliban should be Afghan-led, and that the Taliban should be expected to disavow al Qaeda, abandon violence, and respect the Afghan constitution. For one thing, those used to be the American pre-conditions to any talks. By last February, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated clearly that these were no longer conditions of any kind, but rather “necessary outcomes” of a deal with the Taliban. For another thing, everyone knows it’s all lipstick and high heels anyway. Before Obama’s speech, American diplomats had already met directly with Taliban emissaries at least three times, in Munich last November, in Qatar in February, and again in Munich, in May.