Hillary’s nice try
I sympathise with Secretary of State Clinton on this and she strikes mostly a proper tone.
The US and our partners will have an enduring commitment to the region. Ultimately, we recognise that only the Afghan people can decide what kind of nation they want to build for themselves. And only the Pakistani people can ensure their country’s democratic future. That is why we are working as partners in both countries. The United States has no interest in occupation — we seek partnerships based on mutual respect, mutual interest and mutual trust.
As the President said, our goal is to isolate those who destroy, to strengthen those who build, to hasten the day when our troops will leave, and to forge lasting friendships in which America is a partner, and never a patron.
But I think her expectation that success in Afghanistan is the “world’s responsibility” is nothing more than chin scratcher posturing. Would the dictator wannabe in Venezuela care two bits about our success in central Asia? Would Afghanistan’s neighbor to the west? The answer is, of course not. They do not want democracy to succeed. Its really that simple. Moreover, would the people of the Congo or Rwanda be able to do a damn thing to help (leaving aside whether they actually cared to)? Its silly. NATO is not the world, but is the one most capable of doing something and its the one most threatened, outside the local population in central Asia. Islamic fascism IS a global threat but Al Qaeda and the Taliban are not. The Taliban is quite local to the area. Al Qaeda picks its targets carefully and they can’t target as many places as the used to because of our war against them. But they can certainly cause a lot of problems in central Asia.
Unfortunately, this administration has stopped mentioning the war on terror and have started using the foolish Orwellian term “man caused disasters“, on top of that. Fighting anything with “Islam” in the title is a non-starter with these people. Besides, the Taliban won’t be coming to South America anytime soon, though Islamic terror might. Asking the world to help in Afghanistan is a naked attempt to spread the risk and everyone will see right through it. Most other countries know who their enemy is and will use whatever means they can to prevent its import in their borders. But going half-way around the world to fight in the dessert ain’t happening.
I also have a problem with this:
This week, President Barack Obama reaffirmed the commitment of the United States to our core goal: to disrupt, dismantle and defeat Al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and prevent their return to either country.[Italics mine]
I thought Pakistan was where Al Quaeda was. I never knew they left. In fact, that’s where then candidate Obama said we should go to get them, if need be.
It is certainly a difficult problem we face in central Asia. We’ve done a poor job in securing Afghanistan (so much for U.N. backed multi-lateralism) and Pakistan is a bit of a Pandora’s box. I thnk how to deal with Pakistan is possibly a more difficult policy question than the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. But, I know this: our stalwart belief that Islamic fascists can be negotiated with is nonsense. Its only slightly more crazy than co-existence. Until we talk more honestly about this, and stop worrying about the Arab street, we will get nowhere, while constant apology will do nothing but confirm Osama bin Laden’s bet of the strong horse.
An aside: Sadly, while I think the policy differences would be small, Hillary would have not been the type to bow to monarchs and the like (yes, I know she’d still probably wear the head scarf, maybe). I think she would have done less apologizing, partially because she backed many of the Bush policies. And having been first lady, she would have been more keenly aware of the nastiness of the world where as her boss seems to be stuck with the conventional wisdom of the Ivory tower of Harvard humanities departments. She also would have assembled a team whose professionalism would have been less likely take a back seat to arrogance. Well, I think that’s what would have happened anyway. As much as I dislike our president’s policies, its still very important to me for our president to be respected for what he represents (the good ol’ US of A) rather than who he wishes to make happy (our enemies, as well as the fawning foreign press). I could be wrong here, but I think Hillary would have struck a better tone.