I would like to be cautiously optimistic about this new campaign/escalation/surge, but deep down I just don’t believe history is on our side. As good as the intentions are of President Obama, he can’t make the U.S. military or the Afghani population make this work out. Only they can come to that conclusion and figure out a way to move forward. The U.S. military is undoubtedly one of the most (if not the most) successful military in history, yet it can’t fix a problem that isn’t solely a military one. Building social cohesion, creating infrastructure and institutions, and providing the stable, transparent government is not traditionally a military role. That’s not to say the military can’t help, just that personnel aren’t always prepared for the civil society role.
The problem for me and many others is just how the U.S. can justify its continued involvement in Afghanistan when there is rampant corruption and ties to the drug trade (see previous entries on this subject). According to Newsweek, the plot is even thicker since Afghan drug money is now tied to Dubai. It is very difficult, even in the best of circumstances, to defend and support a government that is one of the most corrupt in the world and is essentially a narcostate. I fear that very little good will actually come from this, with good money being poured after bad.
One other major issue is the publication of a possible withdrawal date. While it’s smart to have an exit strategy in the works, but announcing it out of the gate will most likely make things that much more complicated. It also doesn’t help to have an opposition party ready and willing to pounce on any decision Obama makes, good, bad or indifferent. Opposition is great when it’s healthy, but in some cases it has been disingenuous. Many of these politicians were unquestioning of “questionable” policies 7 or 8 years ago, and yet now the fine-tuning of said policies is a major issue.
Apparently, only time will tell whether or not Obama made the right decision or if history will simply repeat itself in Afghanistan.