Obama has given his speech, and Republicans and Democrats, we are all bastards now.  We’ve gone all in in Afghanistan, and one can’t help but looking back to 1964, or 1980, depending on which side of the Iron Curtain you lived on back then.  Now, I’m not opposed to making a big push in Afghanistan.  Obama’s campaign promise was to wind up Iraq so that we could focus on the real threat — Afghanistan.  It’s just that there is an immense fog between here and there.  No one seems to really know what is going on, and it’s not clear whether victory is possible.

But of course I’m getting ahead of myself.  What is Victory in Afghanistan?  Certainly we would like to kill all of the terrorists in Afghanistan, but the real goal of course is to set up a system there that is closer to our own than the one they currently have.  We need this because the political will to keep fighting will eventually wane for us, and the children of our way of thinking must carry on keeping the countryside free of overt terrorist scheming when we have left.  We think hierarchically.  Our system is a central government with limited, but defined powers, which exist in practice, and ensure basic minimum standards of behavior.  Our central government is accountable to the outside world, and we want a government there that will be accountable to us, meaning the United States, and the rest of the developed world who is scared to hell of more things blowing up.

The Afghan system as it has existed essentially forever, is not to do any of these things.  The central government’s practical power has never been enough to provide accountability to the rest of the world.  Without the U.S. Military there, if someone is building a bomb in the mountains, there isn’t much the central government can do about it unless they can find some reason for the local warlord to be interested in what someone eight thousand miles away thinks about it.

I have no solution for this directly, but there is one thing that has always worked to bring another culture closer to ours, and that is to go there and live in numbers, and for them to come and live with us.  Right now, the central government there is weak, partially because Afghanistan does not have a real professional military along Western lines, with a clear chain of command that is followed in virtually all circumstances.  Without the authority over a real force, there can be no accountability to the outside world. What we need to do is to bring their recruits to the United States to do their training.  We should bring them here by the thousands, to live on our military bases, and even to leave the bases, of course with appropriate precautions.  This will finally provide a real opportunity for many more people here to meet people from there, and get to understand their way of thinking, and to immerse them in ours.  Even better, by doing their training here, we save billions of dollars shipping supplies, and supporting an army there to do training.  Instead, training is done here, at dramatically lower cost, and in our environment, where they will be infected by our culture, and return to spread it.

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12 2009

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