Afghanistan: Which Way Mr. President?
I am a citizen of the United States. For that reason I am, like many millions of others, paying close attention to the deliberations of the Obama administration over how the U.S. will proceed in its nine-year-long war in Afghanistan.
I do not pretend to be an expert on this issue. While I have had a chance in recent years to speak with a number of journalists and others who have worked in Afghanistan, I have not been there myself. And I have traveled to enough countries in the world to know that you do not know a place, not really, until you have spent time there.
So, while my natural skepticism about U.S. military interventions abroad makes me an easy skeptic about any plan to increase the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, I am also aware that things are complicated. For this reason I have been an eager reader of thoughtful, intelligent analysis on the enormous choice about to be made by the U.S. President.
In that spirit I recommend an important article published this week by the U.S. analyst Jonathan Schell in The Nation – The Fifty Year War. Schell's article is a detailed, well-researched comparison between the disasterous circumstances of U.S. escalation in Vietnam nearly half a century ago with the current circumstances in Afghanistan today.
Most chilling are the echoes of that time of choices on Vietnam:
A decision with such heavy domestic political implications that a President might well deploy more U.S. troops based on those considerations instead of the facts of the war itself.
The U.S. linking it fortunes in war with a government that is quite clearly corrupt and which is dependent on the U.S for its political survival.
The potential for a quagmire in which the absence of a graceful exit strategy becomes the only real reason we don't exit.
So for those interested in this question, an important one with many lives at stake, Afghani and U.S. – I encourage you to have a look at The Fifty Year War. And if others have other good articles to suggest, please feel encouraged to post a link to them here [please, not the full article, just a link].