Wednesday, August 23, 2017

12 Propositions on the Afghanistan War

Farah City, Afghanistan

The only long-term solution to the problem of Islamic terrorism is to de-Islamicize the Middle-East (and, thus, I suppose, the rest of the world) - in the same way that we de-Nazified Germany after World War Two. Obviously, there is currently no political will to do this on the part of any Western government.

Short of that, there are still some things that we can do, although precisely which things we can do are by no means obvious. Clearly, what happens in Afghanistan is important. It is a sort of test case for fighting Islamic terrorism without targeting Islam. The only thing that is obvious (to me) is that the right policy on Afghanistan is not obvious.

President Trump's recent commitment to renew and continue the military fight in Afghanistan, involving a change in military strategy as well as a probable (small) troop surge, seems reasonable to me. But I could be wrong.

Here are twelve propositions on the Afghanistan War. Let me know if you agree/disagree with them.

  • "Winning" in Afghanistan means being able to leave without the country becoming a base for Islamic terrorism.
  • We will never be able to win in that sense.
  • This is because aggressive Islam - which is the soil that nourishes contemporary terrorism - remains the religion of the vast majority of the population, and we explicitly have no intention or plan to change that.
  • Though secularism appeared to be on the rise in Afghanistan, a few generations ago, there is no evidence that this trend will return again to any segment of the Islamic world, at least in the foreseeable future. In the 21st century, it's more likely that Western Europe will go de facto Muslim than that secularist momentum will return to the Islamic world.
  • Even though an Afghanistan victory in the conventional sense is impossible, that doesn't mean that military involvement is useless or inadvisable. As George Bush famously claimed, "it's better to fight them over there than to face them here." While this dictum may be misapplied, it is not false.
  • A corollary of the above is that a relatively low-level military commitment may be the best option. Just because more troops won't enable us to win doesn't mean that continuing to invest in a fight involving a relatively small number of troops - minimizing lives and materiel lost - is a bad idea.
  • That indefinite military involvement with no possible victory may still be in the national interest cannot be stated publicly by political leaders, (though many Americans may nevertheless understand and agree with it), or, at least, no American leader has tried to state it.
  • This is another reason why low-level involvement may be preferable - involvement on a larger scale will be more likely to lead to calls for withdrawal.
  • That continuing involvement in a small-scale war may actually be healthy for a military force as a whole - in terms of tactics, training and so on - is a reasonable proposition.
  • This also cannot be stated publicly by political leaders.
  • American withdrawal from Afghanistan will probably mean that Iran, Russia and/or Pakistan will attempt to fill the vacuum.
  • This might be, on net, in our national interest (they would be doing the fighting for us). Or it might not.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with your conclusions, they seem entirely reasonable. Someday, when dumb Americans again put a Marxist in the White House, all the Afghans will be in Europe and the US, and a theater of operations will be unnecessary.