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Thursday, October 29, 2009

How does Afghanistan pose a threat to the United States?

Syndicated columnist Gene Lyons asks the question "Why are we still in Afghanistan?"

"One of the enduring oddities of the American foreign policy debate," he writes, "is that asking the most obvious questions is all but forbidden. For example, how does Afghanistan pose a threat to the United States?"

It doesn’t.

The 9/11 attacks were an aberration. So many people in our internal security and law enforcement structure were asleep at the wheel that it’s downright criminal. An attack like 9/11 shouldn’t occur again. Nobody in our Homeland Security apparatus wants to be the schmo who let it happen on his watch. "Fighting them over there" has nothing to do with national security. They don’t have an air force or a navy that can get us over here.

As Lyons says, "Terrorists can’t defeat the United States; they can only cause American politicians to self-destruct in fear of taking blame for future atrocities."

That, unfortunately, is precisely why Obama is going along with this cockamamie escalation. Imagine how Dick Cheney and the rest of the war banshees would wail if Obama stiff armed Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s escalation demand and somebody snuck through the Homeland Defense screen and blew up a school or a stadium or something. Ouch!

Military pundit Ralph Peters is on the right side of the Afghanistan issue. "Even if everything went perfectly in Afghanistan — which it won’t — the results would be virtually meaningless: Our mortal enemies (above all, al-Qaeda) have dug in elsewhere, from Pakistan to Somalia," he wrote recently in the New York Post. "Our soldiers are dying for a fad, not for a strategy. Our vaunted counterinsurgency doctrine is the military equivalent of hula hoops, pet rocks and Beanie Babies: an oddity that caught the Zeitgeist." Indeed, counterinsurgency (COIN) is the "it" strategy now, the Army’s reason for being. There won’t be any big tank battles in the Fulda gap. COIN is the only kind of war left; without it, there is no Long War.

Of course, if we don’t need the Long War, we don’t need to do COIN in Afghanistan.

And we don’t need the Long War. But it looks like we’re going to get it.

-- from "Alas Afghanistan" by Jeff Huber

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