Politics

What Will Happen if We Leave Afghanistan? Apparently the Exact Same Thing That Happened Last Year.

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At least according to this Time magazine cover, which I think was trying to make a somewhat different point:

Not only that, we all have to see inside Joe Klein!

Seven years ago this month, I noted the "intervention logic" of purported doves like Howard Dean, who back then wanted to (literally) quintuple down on our troop levels in Kabul. Here's a depressingly contemporary excerpt from that:

[B]oth sides of the American political divide believe that confronting Islamacist terror requires essentially the same solution: more overseas commitment.

In part, this reflects the logic of exercising America's historic power. Every president, regardless of what he said before taking the oath, ends up fighting wars, rebuilding faraway lands, and assuming an outsized role in solving the world's problems, great or trivial. Clinton campaigned on the economy, and ended up micro-managing every "peace process" he could get near. Bush famously scoffed at "nation-building," and said his administration would have a "humble" foreign policy. The reality of inheriting existing commitments, and the temptation of using the country's unprecedented might to do good, almost always trump any vaguely isolationist impulse. […]

Right now, as Bush's poll numbers drop and American servicemen get killed almost daily, a loose consensus is emerging that we need to flood the zone with tens of thousands of more troops, all over the world. The New Republic complains about "the blatant foot-dragging over the commitment of American troops to Liberia," and sneers that the Republican Party's "rank and file are extremely uncomfortable with the idea of America as an occupying power." Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria wants a massive budget and troop increase in Iraq, and for Bush to "make a speech explaining to the American people why it is crucial that we succeed in Iraq, what the stakes are and why the costs are justified. He should make clear in no uncertain terms that the United States will stay committed to this course for as long as the Iraqi people wish its help and assistance."

I have no doubt that we'll be running similar pieces in 2017.