Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Afghans must fight for what we want

Thomas Friedman, diplomatic correspondent for the New York Times explained some years ago that in "the best of all worlds," Iraq following the first Gulf War would have ended up as "an iron-fisted junta without Saddam Hussein." Saddam's "iron fist held Iraq together, much to the satisfaction of the American allies Turkey and Saudi Arabia," he observed. (See Noam Chomsky, here.)

Friedman's recent comments on the expected "surge" to take place in Afghanistan are thus true to form:

The main reason we are losing in Afghanistan is not because there are too few American soldiers, but because there are not enough Afghans ready to fight and die for the kind of government we want.
He goes on to quote Prince William's former tutor Rory Stewart, who by walking across Afghanistan a few years back has made a name for himself as an expert on the country. While Stewart's recent essay in Time magazine has been trashed by a host of experts much more knowledgeable than he, it is worth quoting if only for his observations concerning the public mood, as he does spend a lot of time in the country:
[Friedman, quoting Stewart's piece:] “A troop increase is likely to inflame Afghan nationalism because Afghans are more anti-foreign than we acknowledge, and the support for our presence in the insurgency areas is declining ... The more responsibility we take in Afghanistan, the more we undermine the credibility and responsibility of the Afghan government and encourage it to act irresponsibly..." (link)

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