No Victory in Afghanistan

Over at the National Post website, Jonathan Kay has some unusually sensible comments on the war in Afghanistan.

 

The gist: the NATO countries aren’t willing to commit the military resources needed to defeat the Taliban, so the best option is a “negotiated peace.”

 

I think this is true and I want to commend Kay for being so clear-eyed.

 

But I can’t help but mention that this very argument has long been made by many writers, ranging from anti-war conservatives to leftists. Andrew Bacevich, Tariq Ali, and Jack Layton have all said the same thing over the last few years. In response to arguments of this sort, the editors of the National Post, including very much Kay himself, have hurled insults at those who want a negotiated settlement in Afghanistan. They were accused of being anti-patriotic, pro-terrorist, the enemies of victory, and sniveling appeasers who want to stab our brave soldiers in the back.

 

 

I have to ask, doesn’t Kay owe an apology to all those he maligned in the past few years?

 

And what about all the Canadian soldiers and their NATO comrades who have been killed or maimed in Afghanistan?  Let’s also remember the thousands of Afghan civilians who have been killed in the fruitless search for “victory.” That victory was an illusion from day one: the Western powers have never had a sensible plan for securing Afghanistan. After the initial failure to capture Bin Laden, the best solution was to have negotiated with the Taliban and concentrated on trying to root out the remaining Al Qaeda network. Instead, the western countries decided to use Afghanistan as a proving ground for their military mettle and as a test run for the war in Iraq. As a result, many innocent people are now dead. Doesn’t Kay also owe them an explanation and apology?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “No Victory in Afghanistan

  1. I’m not sure I owe anyone an apology — but I do owe at least an explanation. For the last few years, I have hoped and expected that NATO would take this mission seriously, and that the mission would be properly staffed once Iraq is under control (which it is now). But that doesn’t seem to be happening. So then you have to go to Plan B. I simply didn’t like PLan B being discussed when Plan A still seemed at play

  2. Hi Jon: Thanks for dropping by. I apologize for not having read your columns enough to know the answer to this, but have you been an advocate for a draft in the U.S., Canada, and other NATO countries? If so, I’ll grant you the consistency of your beliefs, even if I disagree with your advocacy of the war itself.

    I ask because it has seemed obvious to me that sustaining a long-term and successful counter-insurgency in two large countries simultaneously would naturally require significant rates of conscription — and that taking the War on Terror “seriously” would therefore mandate a vocal and sustained advocacy of the draft. This advocacy being all but absent among the pro-war commentators of the West, I concluded long ago that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were neither serious nor high-stakes, but were simply meant as exercises in intimidation and bluster that went wrong. In other words, I don’t think there ever really was a “Plan A”.

    I also find unconvincing your calm statement that Iraq is now “under control”. It may well be less violent than before, but it defies logic that this is due simply to the presence of 30,000 extra troops (an increase of only 20% or so on the previous total). It seems more likely that the U.S. has temporarily bought its enemies off by funding and arming them in power plays against rivals and non-local actors, and that this merely ratchets up the capacity for political violence while deferring its actual outbreak to another time.

    Best regards,
    Ian

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