From our partners at The Agonist
The Hill reports that sen. Lindsay Graham and other Republican hawks are urging Mitt Romney to distinguish himself from Obama on Afghanistan policy – by saying he’d double down and stay longer.
Madness. If there’s one foreign policy move guaranteed to lose an incumbent this election, it would be exactly this. Over 75% of Americans think the US should get out of the Afghan quagmire sooner rather than later.
However, I don’t think even Romney’s that self-destructive. He’s more likely to be listening to just about every military commander and thinker agreeing with the UK’s Rory Stewart as he writes that “What we have seen is roughly what we will get“.
It is time to be honest about Afghanistan: we face a desperate situation and an intolerable choice.
If the US, Britain and their allies leave Afghanistan, there will be chaos and perhaps civil war. The economy will falter and the Afghan government will probably be unable to command the loyalty or support of its people. The Taliban could significantly strengthen their position in the south and east, and attack other areas. Powerful men, gorged on foreign money, extravagantly armed and connected to the deepest veins of corruption and gangsterism, will flex their muscles. For all these reasons departure will feel – rightly – like a betrayal of Afghans and of the soldiers who have died.
But keeping foreign troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014 will not secure the country’s future either. Every year since 2004, generals and politicians have acknowledged a disastrous situation, produced a new strategy and demanded new resources. They have tried “ink-spots” and “development zones”; counterinsurgency and nation-building; partnering and mentoring; military surges, civilian surges and reconciliation. Generals and ministers called 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 “decisive” years in Afghanistan. None was. None will be.
That’s the reality, trying to act as if it isn’t would be tantamount to sending young men to suicide.