Sunday, November 23, 2008

"The ‘Good War’ Isn’t Worth Fighting"

Rory Stewart, a former British Foreign Service officer, in the NYTimes, here thanks to WIP.
"...The financial crisis is a more immediate threat to United States power and to other states; environmental catastrophe is more dangerous for the world. BoldAnd even from the perspective of terrorism, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are more lethal....President-elect Obama’s emphasis on Afghanistan and his desire to send more troops and money there is misguided. Overestimating its importance distracts us from higher priorities, creates an unhealthy dynamic with the government of Afghanistan and endangers the one thing it needs — the stability that might come from a patient, limited, long-term relationship with the international community.....
A sudden surge of foreign troops and cash will be unhelpful and unsustainable. It would take 20 successful years to match Pakistan’s economy, educational levels, government or judiciary — and Pakistan is still not stable. Nor, for that matter, are northeastern or northwestern India, despite that nation’s great economic and political successes.
We will not be able to eliminate the Taliban from the rural areas of Afghanistan’s south, so we will have to work with Afghans to contain the insurgency instead. All this is unpleasant for Western politicians who dream of solving the fundamental problems and getting out. They will soon be tempted to give up..."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Stewart lives in Afghanistan, so he knows the place well--and is also partial to it. Is he arguing that military efforts should be directed at Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, or that engagement is always the proper response? Certainly engagement can only work if there is a strong, resilient, and willing power-preferably a central government--that one can work with. Or am I missing something?