Trying to civilize Jurassic Park 3

 Michael Yon writes:

While we prepare to shunt perhaps 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan (which still will not be enough), Russia continues to play the Asian chessboard.  The Russians are picking off pawn after pawn, and steadily eroding our foreign policy influence with them and other Central Asian countries.  The Russians know that we need a land route through their country to Afghanistan, especially as we begin the slow process of increasing our combat presence.  The Pakistan land route is one Achilles’ heel to our Afghanistan effort, and Russia is working hard to make sure that Russia is the other Achilles’ heel, which will strengthen the Russian position on matters such as missile defense.  Russia, at the present rate, will eventually exercise considerable control over the spigot to Afghanistan.  The Russians are successfully wrestling us into a policy arm-lock.  While Russia takes American money and gains influence over our Afghan efforts, we will continue to spend lives and tens of billions of dollars per year on Afghanistan in an attempt to civilize what amounts to Jurassic Park.

We must start asking Russia, and others, who the true losers will be if we abandon Afghanistan and leave a resurgent Taliban to lap at their doorsteps.  I am not advocating that we abandon Afghanistan, but our own population and allies might grow weary during the long journey unfolding before us.  The direct threat to us derives far more from al Qaeda than the Taliban, and we can keep punching down al Qaeda for a lot less than it’s costing to prosecute the Afghan war while abdicating significant influence to Russia.  Russia has much to worry about if NATO countries begin to abandon Afghanistan.

Some recent and unfolding examples: Russia allows transit of US military supplies

Russia is not a country given to a humanitarian spirit, and they do not cooperate on matters such as the International Space Station only for the sake of space exploration and science.  Russia can only be trusted to behave in ways that enhance Russian power and wealth.

Beyond the fact that we will need to dedicate decades or even a century to Afghanistan, no country in the neighborhood will cooperate except when it directly affects their own interests.  They will attempt to squeeze every dollar and concession from us as we help secure their neighborhoods, all while the present drug-dealing Afghan government is bucking like a mule while our government is preparing to pin a significant amount of our combat power in a landlocked country.

The sum of many factors leaves me with a bad feeling about all this.  The Iraq war, even during the worst times, never seemed like such a bog.  Yet there is something about our commitment in Afghanistan that feels wrong, as if a bear trap is hidden under the sand…

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, February 10, 2009

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This post has 3 comments.

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  • roger in florida

    We have to be realistic about what we can do. Nation Building and changing of cultures takes a commitment that is just not there. As Michael Yon says to make any kind of change in Afghanistan would take a century or more, that is not going to happen. A better aproach to say, Somalia, would be to bomb them and land a force for the express purpose of killing the bad guys. That is not going to happen now either until perhaps Chicago disappears in a nuclear cloud, then our “leaders” may stir themselves to action, and look, why would they be proactive? Where did that approach get GWB?

  • Arthurian

    Why not shift the troops from Afghanistan to Somalia? That’s where Al-Qaida is now and where it needs to be defeated. Let the Taliban have Afghanistan. There’s no way America can save the Afghan women from enslavement.

  • roger in florida

    Michael Yon sums it all up excellently. While this situation is played out by the driving factors (seemingly everyone except US and NATO) we have a President who is showing himself to have an astounding level of arrogant naivete and a Sec State in hock to some of the players and with no experience, historic interest or apparent ability in international relations.

    God help us!