Tar Baby

President Obama is grappling with a momentous and extremely difficult choice in Afghanistan. It is a grim situation, and there are really no good options; there is also no consensus amongst his advisers, or the punditry at large, about what we ought to do. Reader JK, who always has his ear to the ground, has sent us a link to a brief article by Henry Kissinger in which the former Secretary of State — who, however you may feel about him, is certainly an experienced hand — examines the problem.

We read:

President Obama, as a candidate, proclaimed Afghanistan a necessary war. As president, he has shown considerable courage in implementing his promise to increase our forces in Afghanistan and to pursue the war more energetically. A sudden reversal of American policy would fundamentally affect domestic stability in Pakistan by freeing the Qaeda forces along the Afghan border for even deeper incursions into Pakistan, threatening domestic chaos. It would raise the most serious questions about American steadiness in India, the probable target should a collapse in Afghanistan give jihad an even greater impetus. In short, the reversal of a process introduced with sweeping visions by two administrations may lead to chaos, ultimately deeper American involvement, and loss of confidence in American reliability. The prospects of world order will be greatly affected by whether our strategy comes to be perceived as a retreat from the region, or a more effective way to sustain it.

Dr. Kissinger, perhaps unsurprisingly, concludes that we should increase our efforts, but also (and also unsurprisingly) argues that we need to increase our focus on diplomatic efforts. He suggest that we work to build a coalition amongst the other powers with interests at stake, though they may make very strange bedfellows. Read the essay here.

Meanwhile, as expected (by me at least), support in Pakistan for alliance with the US against our Mulsim foes is eroding rapidly. Here.

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