There has been a great deal of discussion in the past 48 hours about Afghanistan in many of the papers. Most of it focused in the editorial pages by esteemed men like George Will. The peace movements also seem to be mobilizing to try to launch a public relations campaign in October to focus upon pushing for a withdrawal of US Forces from Afghanistan. With all of this being said, the question becomes; why does Afghanistan matter to us?
To answer that question, and to try to cover all bases in an objective fashion, I am going to address it utilizing the foundations of the Realist, Liberal, and Idealist schools of thought. I debated long and hard over whether I should address it as an idealist. But, since many of the arguments are being formulated in this fashion, I thought it was only fair. That, and to be honest, I tend to be a bit of an idealist myself.
First up, the Realists. The Realists state that all nation-states operate in a system of international anarchy and that they act solely in their own self-interest. If I were to answer the question as a Realist, I would tell you that a failed state in Afghanistan would directly affect the security of Pakistan, a nuclear power. It would also serve to provide a safe-haven for Al Qaeda to operate from again. In addition, it could act to destabilize the Central Asian states to its north. Opium trade would increase thus directly increasing organized crime in Russia and Europe. In the end, becoming a security threat to the United States both through direct and indirect methods. As a Realist, I would argue for the United States finishing the mission we started because it is simply in our best interest to do so.
Secondly, as a Liberal. As a Liberal, I would believe that all Nation-States should give up portions of their sovereignty to international organizations in order to serve the greater good. I would also argue that the spread of democracy serves to further decrease the likelihood of warfare between nations. As a Liberal, Afghanistan matters because it serves to further stabilize the region. By helping create a democratic fashioned state, it decreases the likelihood of open warfare between it and its neighbors. It serves to prevent the resurgence of Al Qaeda, which is a direct threat to international norms and laws. It also would serve to provide an example of a democratic state on Iran's border that could help shape the Iranian peoples views on how a government should act. As a Liberal, I would argue for the US to finish the mission that we started.
Finally, as an Idealist. As an Idealist, I would argue that it is the right thing to do. The Afghan people have been brutalized for the last three decades and deserve to breathe the cool air of freedom. Rape and oppression cannot be tolerated. Freedom, is an inherent right of all human beings and must be preserved and guarded. The tyrannical regime of the Taliban must not be allowed to return to power, and once again subjugate the Afghan people to their warped and twisted version of Islamic Law that allowed them to absolutely brutalize them. As an Idealist, I would argue that the US must finish the mission in Afghanistan that we started.
As things begin to take shape, as all three I return to the original premise that the United States and NATO must finish the mission in Afghanistan. It is in our National Interests to do so, it is in the interest of regional and global stability, and it is purely the right thing to do. Many of the commentators out there need to take a good hard look at their rationales and truly explain why they want to get out. I have not seen a convincing or logical argument made yet.
Afghanistan matters very much to us. It is a mission that must be finished both for us and for them.
God Bless America