Monday, September 6, 2021

Quick Hit

This is Joseph.

There has been a lot of discussion about leaving Afghanistan and the consequences thereof. For the record, I am generally supportive of the decision to leave, given that the opportunity for long term nation building (i.e., the Japan model) was botched long ago. While we can discuss some obvious places that we could improve policy (easy Green Cards for Afghani residents who helped the US seems like a bit of a no-brainer), the truth is that the war was not achieving any important goals and people were dying. We might not like some of the policies that the Taliban is bringing, but they appears to have much broader support than in 2001 (which is a huge critique of the operation) and war is not really a great way to improve human rights (collateral damage from modern military operations tends to undermine moral credibility). 

But smart people can disagree.

What I find somewhat amazing is people who left the conflict in 2015 (aka the British) are suddenly upset that the US is leaving. The easy way to ensure that an operation continues is to be a part of it. There were only 8000 US troops in Afghanistan -- at it's peak the UK had more and could have decided to send these troops back. 

The narrative that the leaving process was botched is only credible insofar as we think that the complete collapse of the Afghan state was a sign of previous failure. But how do you fix such a problem, 20 years into the conflict? Honestly, I think Trump and Biden made the best of a bad situation. 

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