13 November 2009

Thoughts on Afghanistan

Discussing Afghanistan with a friend in an e-mail exchange, I wrote this:
I'm not big on invasions and wars in general, but do you realize that if the US had, in December, 2001, chosen to set up a "Occupation Government of Afghanistan" modeled on the Occupation of Japan from 1945-51, we could very well be leaving right now, having transitioned to a stable sovereign parliamentary government and a grateful population? Instead of installing an arch criminal whose brother is a drug kingpin as a "government," while switching focus and resources to an entirely unnecessary war in Iraq. Remember? They were ecstatic when the Taliban was overthrown and Qaida expelled. Sure, things could have gone wrong, but we didn't even try. Afghanistan is a really poor country. Only $50B GDP. Even if the US had just paid every adult over the age of 20 $1500 a year in cash to grow wheat and barley, not opium, and do whatever else they were already doing, we would have spent far less than we have, and the Taliban would have no foothold, because the economy of the country would be starting to function.

Oh well, I always was a utopian dreamer. But it's totally clear to me that sending in more soldiers will only make the situation worse, keep US involvement there longer, cost more, and make the world and even the US itself a more dangerous place. (And, of course, cause huge suffering and loss of life). It will increase the number of young Muslim men from the Mahgreb to Indonesia who are convinced that we are waging the 10th Crusade against their religion and civilization. (Which I'm not totally sure isn't true; check out Mikey Weinstein's http://www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org/voices.html ).

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