I spent yesterday reading about the murder of Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab province in Pakistan, but I haven’t had time to blog about it until now. Taseer was a high-ranking member of the most powerful Pakistani political party and he was the governor of the political and cultural center of the country. [...]
The New York Times, to its credit, attempts to dispel some of the stubborn misinformation concerning the interchangeability (or lack thereof) of the Afghan Taliban faction and Pakistani Taliban faction. Contrary to popular and pervasive fictions, these two groups are quite distinct in terms of strategy and objectives.
As it devises a New Afghanistan policy, the [...]
At long last, the Obama administration has provided a draft of its objectives with respect to the ongoing military occupation of Afghanistan, as well as a series of metrics for gauging the success in terms of meeting those aims. Unfortunately, the enunciated objectives are themselves typical of the muddled and contradictory goals, tactics and strategies associated [...]
James Joyner passes along some rather unremarkable news about India’s views on the ongoing US occupation of Afghanistan - unremarkable news given the regional dynamic that pits India (in support of the Karzai government) against Pakistan (who had strongly backed the Taliban as its proxy/ally in Afghanistan):
India’s new ambassador to the United States, Meera Shankar, told the [...]
My project to review Juan Cole’s Engaging the Muslim World chapter by chapter is dragging on longer than I thought it would, but I hate leaving things unfinished, and so I soldier on. The fifth chapter, “Pakistan and Afghanistan: Beyond the Taliban,” is the one most outside of my expertise, for while I did [...]
Despite President Bush’s post-9/11, manichean-tinged attempt to categorize other nations as either “with us or against us” with respect to those terrorist groups that the US government considers problematic, and despite an understandable impulse on the part of the US government to put US interests ahead of those of other states (a tendency that spans administrations from [...]
Stephen Biddle’s recent piece on Afghanistan seeks to probe the question asked in the title, Is It Worth It? Biddle’s answer is a tepid, tentative "yes." In his words, our ongoing military campaign in Afghanistan represents "a war effort that is costly, risky and worth waging—but only barely so."
As suggested, Biddle is certainly no optimist about our prospects for "victory" in Afghanistan – although, to his credit, he narrows down the criteria to two modest goals when compared to some of the other more grandiose designs associated with the mission since its inception.
The United States has two primary national interests in this conflict: that Afghanistan never again become a haven for terrorism against the United States, and that chaos in Afghanistan not destabilize its neighbors, especially Pakistan. Neither interest can be dismissed, but both have limits as casus belli.
Biddle quickly abandons the first rationale, however, describing it as the "weakest" reason to wage a war considering the fact that: (a) there is no guarantee that the Taliban would welcome al-Qaeda back if the US departs and the Taliban dominates; (b) we can disrupt so-called safe-havens by taking measures far short of all out war; and (c) there are more attractive safe havens available in several other settings, and waging war to shut them down as they crop up is unrealistic in the extreme (also: a key part of Osama Bin Laden’s strategy of bleeding our resources by goading us into costly campaigns across the globe) – arguments that this site has been making with some frequency.
Which leaves us with the second rationale alone, about which Biddle has this to say:
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