Is America Wasting Blood and Treasure in Afghanistan?
Note: This piece first appeared in My Public Affairs on Blogger in August 2014.
Some are fond of calling it a “boondoggle.” Others call it “meddling.” Those are the charitable descriptors.
A sizable faction refers to our Afghanistan intervention as an “invasion,” and “occupation,” and the worst kind of neo-colonialism.
Do they not know that the Afghans want us here? And overwhelmingly so?
The United States led the 2001 invasion in order to topple the Taliban regime, which it did quickly and decisively. NATO was pulled into a longer commitment partly because of the elusiveness of Osama Bin Laden and the resilience of al-Qaeda and its affiliates.
Now the country is on the brink of a breakthrough. It is fashionable for people living in the comfort and security of the West to belittle prospects in central Asia, but they neglect to account for the enormous progress Afghanistan has made. They also forget that a vast majority of Afghans want peace and liberal political arrangements.
Of course they could not guarantee it on their own. Their military is far too weak, their economy anemic, and their enemies determined. But every day, thousands of Afghans put their lives on the line trying to secure freedom from the barbarians.
Would those in the West who mock ISAF’s mission and Afghanistan’s possibilities abandon those patriots? “It is a waste of money,” the critics say as if the beheading of a pro-freedom mullah is just a matter to be reckoned in dollars and cents. As if the plight of the elders from Nuristan, who recently appealed to the government in Kabul for help to rid them of the “scourge” of insurgency after militants massacred 1,110 people there would result in the U.S. misspending money.
Is it a boondoggle to help people escape this vicious gangsterism?
If, with a snap of fingers or flick of a magic wand, the Taliban could be eliminated, then even the most ardent anti-interventionists would probably agree to it.
But these things must be fought for.
Nothing worth fighting for is a waste.