Monday, December 13, 2004

Krauthammer Misses the Point

In his latest column, Charles Krauthammer apparently misses the point about Afghanistan.
He criticizes those who note the strong opium poppy trade for expecting miracles, and points out that all the flaws that people have pointed out about our occupation of Afghanistan and its elections ignore the fact that overall we've done pretty well there.

I won't argue that point, but the problem is that while I think we did well in Afghanistan, what we have done falls far short of the neocon goal of implanting democracy and in fact we succeeded largely in Afghanistna because we tried not to disrupt the system there that much.
The elections were rigged and our puppet Hamid Karzai was elected. He doesn't control most of the country. The biggest industry is the poppy trade (as in heroin and opium). Krauthammer dismisses these points by saying (I'm paraphrasing): Yes, and the Sun rises in the East. This has always been true and we aren't going to change it, at least not quickly. He also asks what could Bush have done to make this better, pointing out that a large occupation force, particularly one that destroyed the opium crop, would cause a revolt.
All true, but that's not the point. The point isn't that Bush could have done better or that leaving a larger footprint would have democratized them quicker or that the Afghanis changes overnight. The point is that while Bush may have done the best that anyone could do in Afghanistan, the best that can be done is still pretty shabby and we shouldn't make it out to be something that it is not.

In other words, what actually was accomplished in Afghanistan was fairly decent, so let's not be greedy and try to claim that we did more than we actually did. If I were to promise to eat 100 donuts and I could only stuff myself with 12, I bear no blame for not being able to eat the 100. But I do bear the blame of making the promise in the first place. Moreover, it would be unseemly of me to reason that becuae I ate as many as I could eat, I had fulfilled my promise, and to pretend that I had fulfilled it.

In actuality, the fact that what we accomplished in Afghanistan was as good as van be reasonably expected should be a warning sign that we should be cautious about what we promise.

That is all.

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