Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Karzai's Mayberry

I rarely ever read Arianna Huffington. But sometimes I slip up and then I remember why I don't read her to begin with. Today I ran across this missive on Afghanistan. After reading it, I feel markedly less intelligent.

There's nothing particularly ground-breaking in the piece. Just the usual caterwauling about unfinished business, resurgent Taliban, powerless Hamid Karzai, negligent American troops and growing anti-American sentiment in response to said negligence.

But upon reading the close of the piece, I was struck by two words in this sentence:

The president and his representatives have spoken often of winning the hearts and minds of the Arab world. Incidents like these, and the scandal brewing over the killings in Haditha in Iraq, are having the opposite effect -- and speak volumes about the dangers inherent in imperial adventures.

I'm sorry, but in what way is Afhanistan an "imperial adventure?"

We're currently occupying the country in conjunction with multinational forces from all over the world. The United States does not own Hamid Karzai. He acts quite independently of the U.S. and oftentimes in a manner at odds with U.S. wishes. The Afghanis have instituted democratic processes and written their own constitution.

Moreover, we went to Afghanistan in response to 9/11. The objective was to take out the Taliban masters who had allowed Osama bin Laden to base is operations in the Hindu Kush. We certainly didn't go there for oil or to build bases or to sell the Afghanis our products. How in the world could you argue that Afghanistan resembles Iraq or that it is anything other than precisely what it was? Imperial adventure?

Perhaps it was just a misstep on Arianna's part. Maybe she didn't really mean it that way. But the fact of the matte is that many on her side of the debate take far too many liberties with the truth to simply overlook imprecise language. They've been Johnny-come-latelys on the interwar period in Iraq and now fancy themselves as real experts on WMD and international law. Similarly, they're now also experts on narco-trafficking, re-forming Taliban, and lack of progress in Afghanistan. Why shouldn't we, then, take them seriously when they make proclamations about imperial adventures?

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