The Price of Withdrawal and the Price of Staying

Prepare to be depressed, I’m about to talk about Afghanistan.

I’m one of those people who think we actually have several active and inactive reasons to remain in the country.

1. I think we need to eradicate the Taliban on both sides of the border, they are allies and enablers of Al Qaeda.

2. I think we need to prevent our enemies currently hiding on the Pakistan side of the border from re-establishing a power base in the south of the country.

3. I think we need to prevent clandestine moment of Nuclear expertise and/or materials between Pakistan and Iran through Afghanistan

4. I think we need to have a force next door to Iran as a threat in being in case it becomes necessary to seize nuclear materials if necessary (of course it would have been better to have a threat in being on BOTH side of Iran but that’s a different post).

There is certainly another side to the argument. Assuming the goals I have elaborated are not the goals of the nation it is not an unfair statement to say if we are going to have troops deployed we need to have a defined goals and have rules of engagement to further those goals and if we aren’t putting our troops in a position to be killed is criminal.

That being said if we as a nation decide to pull out of Afghanistan it has to be clearly understood the end result is going to look like this:

A 14-year-old Pakistani student who won international acclaim for speaking out for girls barred from school by the Taliban was critically wounded Tuesday by a gunman who boarded her school bus, asked for her by name, aimed his pistol at her head and fired, officials said.

The Pakistani Taliban asserted responsibility for the attack on ninth-grader Malala Yousafzai, who gained notice in early 2009 when she wrote a diary about Taliban atrocities under a pen name for the BBC’s Urdu service. Yousafzai lives in Mingora, a city in the scenic northwestern Swat valley, where Taliban insurgents imposed harsh Islamic law for two years before being routed by a major military operation in May 2009.

As soon as we are out the Taliban are going to come back in and this will be the fate of Afghan girls and women. Frankly I suspect the government of Afghanistan is not going to be all that upset if it is. WE have to decide as a nation if we intend to do something about the slaughter and subjugation of women over there or not.

The basic fact is Afghan Culture and Islam are not going to modify its beliefs simply because we want them to. Unless we are willing to impose our culture on these people a-la Japan 1946 nothing is likely to change. This is a horrible thing to say but it’s true.

Of course it would not be possible for us to impose our culture on these people even if we wanted to. Even if we had the cultural strength, confidence, or unity we once had (we don’t) we simply don’t have the cultural morality that we had in the 40’s. We can manage some basic things, but without said cultural morality that we once had there is no way to persuade the Afghans to maintain changes we would impose, and we WOULD have to impose them. After all how do we explain to the Afghans this stuff when our best and brightest are doing this:

Later this semester at Harvard, students will pause from studying things like philosophy, history, or the sciences, in order to celebrate something called “Incest-Fest.”

Incest-Fest is, essentially, a campus party where making out and hooking up with as many people as possible is the goal. It gets the “incest” name because the event is open only to residents of Kirkland house–one of Harvard’s undergraduate residences. Thus, students who are living together (as if they were members of the same family, get it?? Incest? So funny, right?) are having sex with one another.

America, this is your best and brightest. Are you proud?

Of course the reality is our best and brightest are the kids IN Afghanistan but yeah we’re so going to convince the Afghans that they should emulate us so their daughters can be emancipated like ours to sleep with as many strangers as possible in a night. That’ll sell.

By all means while we are there we should do our best to persuade and cajole Afghans into the a different way, but unless Afghans decide they want better for themselves and their wives and daughters at best we are buying a penny ticket in a lottery.

It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try, but whatever decision we make it should be done with eyes open and a sober realization of the cost of action or inaction.