Our old friend at Global Paradigms neatly lays out the trap Democrats set for themselves shifting war from Iraq to Afghanistan. One need only toss a cursory glance at the fate of the Soviet 40th Army and Gromov’s inglorious retreat across the Freedom Bridge (yes, yes we know, Milt, take another bow and send another memory fax to Langley).
Full circle back to Kipling.
How one can be an Afghan enthusiast as described by Global Paradigms escapes us. But he is right. They do exist.
Ideological Kool Aid of the most potent proof can not obscure the futility of nation-building in Afghanistan, let alone promotion of democracy. The Boy King is building his own gordian knot. Unknowingly. In 16 months, 10 months, 20 months, eventually Iraq will sink to its own equilibrium — Lebanon fragmentation, autonomous regions or blanket genocidal ebb and flow. U.S. withdrawal is a matter of when. And the Boy King will get his wish: focus on Afghanistan.
Regarding Iraq, like a certain army that overextended itself reaching the outskirts of the Asian steppe, “don’t think once we leave there we are ever going back again.” Yet that withdrawal will not solve Afghanistan. Something our wiser European competitors/nominal allies understand. Even an ‘augmented’ presence in Afghanistan will do little but to staunch, to quote some guy with a red stain on his forehead in 1985, “a bleeding wound.”
Those around the Boy King so far wisely coach him in public to stay away from the ultimate conclusion of his rhetorical “la petite morte” — a commitment to nation build or promote democracy, under new slogans of course. This outcome is the essence of Boy Kingism, to the extent there is even a there, there. A campaign drunk on their own rhetoric and perceived political power of rhetoric. Not a particularly auspicious foundation for realism, particularly when he must coalesce his long term domestic political base. He will buy good will and breathing room from the Left with the Iraq draw down. But can Boy Kingism really adopt and then *survive* the nimbus of moral shades of gray that inevitably cloak raison d’etat?
Afghanistan by its nature will compel that outcome or dictate even more calamitous ones. We wonder how a Boy King Administration will internalize realist-constraints as blows to self image, recognize facts on the ground with its rhetorical keg parties. If he can barely survive a FISA vote that Greenwald, and all the other arriviste gnats/bloggers don’t understand, one can only brace for impact.
A pessimist would see a Boy King half rhetorical: neocon-lite (but now with Splenda ™ !). The quotes cited by Global Paradigms might lead one in this direction. A short term optimist might recognize that the Boy King lacks the experience, drive and Will to Power to sustain a gruesome campaign in Afghanistan. LBJ was haunted every night calling the Pentagon for the latest casualty figures. And his mettle transcended the Boy King’s cub scout cotton beyond imagination. The Boy King would wilt like origami in a bath tub.
In that context, Washington should no longer depend anymore on Pakistan — an unreliable client state an unstable regime and ties to radical Islamic groups — to serve as its strategic ally in the region. Instead, the U.S. should provide incentives to India, which is emerging as a leading economic and military to counter-balance the power of Pakistan as part of an effort backed by Russia and Turkey to reduce the influence of radical Islam in Afghanistan and and the rest of the region. Some remnants of the Taliban are expected to return to Afghanistan, but they should know that if they provide refuge to anti-American terrorists again, they would have another rendevouz with those Daisy Cutters. At the same time, Washington make the capture of Osama bin Ladin and other Al Qaeda terrorists hiding in Pakistan a condition for any improvement in American relationship with Islamabad.
This set of policies may not sound as romantic as nation-building. But a U.S. President that has the gift of a first-rate intelligence and who claims not to using the methods of Doublethink will suffer no dissonance if he decides to pursue them.
We are not so sure of Global Paradigm’s conclusions about India, Turkey and Russia as geostrategic lynchpins or even surrogates in a limited sense. The reasons are many and deserve their own post. Pakistani requirements for strategic depth complicate all calculations, regardless whether we lean on Islamabad or not. Indian strategic perspectives, Russian historical ambitions, Chinese regional diplomacy — plus Iran — all make for a complicated game. In any event, Global Paradigms offers a provocative analysis. Check it out.