Afghanistan’s Cure Is Unpopular But Necessary

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George Will writes today that we should pull out of Afghanistan and instead focus on Pakistan.

Even though I still think we should stay (and I’ll get into why), at this point he has my ear…

U.S. forces are being increased by 21,000, to 68,000, bringing the coalition total to 110,000. About 9,000 are from Britain, where support for the war is waning. Counterinsurgency theory concerning the time and the ratio of forces required to protect the population indicates that, nationwide, Afghanistan would need hundreds of thousands of coalition troops, perhaps for a decade or more. That is inconceivable.

So, instead, forces should be substantially reduced to serve a comprehensively revised policy: America should do only what can be done from offshore, using intelligence, drones, cruise missiles, airstrikes and small, potent Special Forces units, concentrating on the porous 1,500-mile border with Pakistan, a nation that actually matters.

Couple this with the reality that a soldier dies every 14 hours in Afghanistan and dropping public opinion about why we should be there, and you have a recipe for quick withdrawal.

But here’s why I think we still need to keep pushing for at least another year…opium.

I’ve talked about this before, but to sum it up…if we allow Afghans to grow opium legally (as they do in India and Turkey) and sell it to pharmaceutical companies, we can regulate it and they can pull themselves out of the crushing poverty that is the backdrop for sympathetic views of the Taliban.

If not, we should just pack up and go.

Seriously. Because they’re not going to be able to build a stable economy with anything else and without money there is no hope for the country. And I mean NO hope. Virtually nothing can grow there, they have scant natural resources and their infrastructure is literally 200 years behind ours. It’s a crazy place and we can’t simply pour billions after billions to rebuild. Well, we can, but it’s not sustainable.

The choice is ours, but one thing is for sure…more troops won’t make Afghanistan whole again. No way, no how.

I welcome your thoughts…