Why Escalation Remains Good

by Joshua Foust on 1/22/2009 · 2 comments

I don’t go much for single week blogstravaganzas; I prefer my beliefs and advocacy (especially when it comes to Afghanistan) to last a bit longer. With that in mind, Jari Lindholm wrote a wonderful, concise bullet list of why remaining, and even triumphing, in Afghanistan is not just smart but a serious matter with very serious implications. So I’ll just crib that wholesale and hope he doesn’t get mad:

* The coalition crumbles, leaving the U.S. and Britain to fight alone. Reconstruction grinds to a halt.
* Debilitated by its failure, NATO shrinks to irrelevance. Fireworks in Moscow.
* Faced with a fight to the death, the Kabul government chooses engagement with the Taleban instead.
* The Taleban kills everyone else and seizes power.
* Military coup in Pakistan.
* Al-Qaeda hits Europe and America.
* Supported by an international coalition, the U.S. starts a bombing campaign to topple the Taleban. Osama bin Laden escapes.

Well, yes. My concerns remain about the feasibility of our goals, but Lindholm is right that the consequences of our failure loom far larger than the non-escalation crowd seems willing to concede.A

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This post was written by...

– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from Registan.net. His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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Reverend Doctor January 23, 2009 at 8:55 am

Well yes, but.

Alternate universe:

–NATO and the US put in more troops, which will total to less than half the highest amount the Soviets ever had there.

–We still will not really control the territory that we want to, and rural Afghans will continue to rely on the mujahids to give them a rudimentary system of rule that doesn’t run counter to their cultural values as much as the West’s.

–The mujahidin groups win a huge propaganda victory when the US and NATO are just as unsuccessful at controlling the place with twice the troops.

–The ANA and ANP numbers, now growing, will evaporate when groups of them desert and switch sides, because they sense they are no longer on the winning side.

–European countries will, even more, ask why we are sending troops to a country that doesn’t want us there. They’ll set a timetable and pull out their troops before the end of Obama’s adminstration.

–Obama will have to escalate US troop numbers even more, now that NATO has become, for all de facto purposes, broken.

–The US troops that will be in Afghanistan will be tired, dispirited, and wondering why we are in a country where no one wants us.

–Because America’s weakening economy cannot really support a large US military force outside its borders, and we withdraw our troops over Friendship bridge to Kuwait and Qatar.

Sikander Hayat January 23, 2009 at 10:47 am

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