There has been over a month of debating future “AfPak” strategy since General Stanley A. McChrystal has released his assessment of the war and his request for more resources, including at least 40,000 additional troops. The Obama administration is supposedly exploring every option on the table, but one option, very popular among the people, never found its way to that table. Something that really should be reassessed is just how necessary this “War of Necessity” is.
From the start, Afghanistan was invaded because it was a safe haven for terrorists, including Al-Qaeda, under the Taliban regime. That is no longer the case, and the reason to stay in Afghanistan now is so that the country does not return to being a haven. A terrorist safe haven sounds like a disaster that must be avoided at all costs, but when closely examined, falls apart as justification. First off, there is no guarantee that pulling out would cause this to happen. The Taliban is a separate entity from Al-Qaeda; the two have been very close in the past and there is no doubt a good deal of shared sympathies, but they are separate organizations. Al-Qaeda is a compartmentalized network of cells, much more a global jihadi movement than a tangible organization. The Taliban, however, has been a local force since their beginnings. Before the US invasion in 2001, the Taliban was not a global terrorist group, but administrators of Islamic law in Afghanistan, and reclaiming that authority is their stated objective.
Being in league with Al-Qaeda was what got the Taliban overthrown in 2001, and keeping Al-Qaeda out of Afghanistan is still America’s primary objective. The Taliban has already announced that they pose no threat to the west, and take their word or not, doing the same thing that got them overthrown before does not seem to be in their best interest.
But, let’s say that does happen for whatever reason. How much of a threat to American security would that be? Are training camps necessary for launching terrorist attacks? They weren’t for September 11, which was coordinated in German hotel rooms and carried out by pilots who received training in America. In this age of instant global communication, a terrorist attack can be planned from just about anywhere, and if physical facilities are needed, the world is an enormous place with a lot of unstable areas. Say we do spend another 10 years, another $500 billion, another 1,000 American lives, and we finally have a secure, peaceful Afghanistan. Why wouldn’t terrorists just go set up shop in Somalia? Or Sudan? Or Pakistan? Or Libya? Or Uzbekistan? If we are obligated to secure one potential hotbed, where does it end? Are we setting course for endless war against terror?
Since 2001, the Afghan public’s view of U.S. forces has become increasingly unfavorable, the government we are supporting is pervasively corrupt, and the insurgency is now stronger than ever. Everyone knows America is broke already, and it is time we ask ourselves how effective this war is and how much more can we afford.
Interested in talking about the war in Afghanistan? Tonight in DCC 324 the College Libertarians, College Republicans, and Progressive Students Alliance will all be gathering for our first ever three-way debate from 8–10 pm. Afghanistan, the economy, and health care will be discussed and questions will be taken from the audience. Please come and take part in the discussion!