The same neo-conservatives (and some new ones like Sarah Palin(!), plus Amb. Ryan Crocker) who created the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) 12 years ago and subsequently campaigned ceaselessly for the ouster and invasion of Iraq have just called on Pres. Obama to “fully resource” the war in Afghanistan in their new guise as the more modest sounding Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI). It’s remarkable that more liberal interventionists did not sign on to this, as the letter, according to “Politico’s” Ben Smith, has been circulating for some days, and PNAC had a history of reaching out to their political cousins on the liberal side of the political spectrum, as during the Iraq War when they, like some at Brookings and elsewhere, felt Rumsfeld wasn’t as committed to the war and remaking Iraq as he should have been.
The fact that this list of signatories is so ideologically narrow suggests that the neo-conservative brand is still considered toxic, even to those who agree with them on Afghanistan’s importance. There’s much else to observe and speculate about this document — such as how its focus on Afghanistan may affect FPI’s interest in promoting confrontation with Tehran over the next few months (Iran can make “winning” in Afghanistan much more difficult) — but, for now, you can just read it and note the signatories, especially Palin:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 7, 2009
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Jamie Fly – (202) 360-2802
President Obama Urged to Properly Resource
War Effort in Afghanistan
WASHINGTON – A distinguished group of Americans active in the foreign policy debate expressed support today for the U.S. effort in Afghanistan, and called upon President Obama to continue to provide the necessary resources requested by his commanders on the ground to ensure success. In an open letter organized by the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI), the group offered its appreciation for the president’s decision earlier this year to deploy 21,000 additional U.S. troops to the country, and urged him to continue to properly resource the war effort. Given increasing public concern about the U.S. commitment in Afghanistan, the letter also suggests that the President make it a priority to explain to the American people why it is important to remain committed to winning in Afghanistan, and why such a victory is feasible.
The letter’s signatories write: “The situation in Afghanistan is grave and deteriorating…Since the announcement of your administration’s new strategy, we have been troubled by calls for a drawdown of American forces in Afghanistan and a growing sense of defeatism about the war. With General McChrystal expected to request additional troops later this month, we urge you to continue on the path you have taken thus far and give our commanders on the ground the forces they need to implement a successful counterinsurgency strategy. There is no middle course. Incrementally committing fewer troops than required would be a grave mistake and may well lead to American defeat. We will not support half-measures that repeat the errors of the past.”
The letter’s signers so far are: Steve Biegun, Max Boot, Debra Burlingame, Eliot A. Cohen, Ryan C. Crocker, Thomas Donnelly, Eric Edelman, William S. Edgerly, Jamie M. Fly, David Frum, Abe Greenwald, John Hannah, Pete Hegseth, Margaret Hoover, Thomas Joscelyn, Frederick W. Kagan, Robert Kagan, William Kristol, Tod Lindberg, Herbert London, Clifford May, Robert C. McFarlane, Joshua Muravchik, Sarah Palin, Keith Pavlischek, Beverly Perlson, Danielle Pletka, John Podhoretz, Stephen Rademaker, Karl Rove, Jennifer Rubin, Randy Scheunemann, Gary Schmitt, Dan Senor, Marc Thiessen, Peter Wehner, Kenneth Weinstein, and Christian Whiton.
FPI is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that seeks to promote an active U.S. foreign policy committed to robust support for democratic allies, human rights, a strong American military equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st century, and global economic competitiveness. The organization is led by Executive Director Jamie Fly. FPI was founded by Robert Kagan, William Kristol, and Dan Senor. For more information, please visit www.foreignpolicyi.org.
The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
Dear Mr. President:
The situation in Afghanistan is grave and deteriorating. This is in part the legacy of an under resourced war effort that has cost us and the Afghans dearly. The Taliban has retaken important parts of the country, while a flawed U.S. strategy has led American forces into secondary efforts far away from critical areas. However, we remain convinced that the fight against the Taliban is winnable, and it is in the vital national security interest of the United States to win it.
You’ve called Afghanistan an “international security challenge of the highest order, ” and stated that “the safety of people around the world is at stake.” Last month you told a convention of veterans, “Those who attacked America on 9/11 are plotting to do so again. If left unchecked, the Taliban insurgency will mean an even larger safe haven from which al Qaeda would plot to kill more Americans. So this is not only a war worth fighting. This is fundamental to the defense of our people.”
We fully agree with those sentiments. We congratulate you on the leadership you demonstrated earlier this year when you decided to deploy approximately 21,000 additional troops and several thousand civilian experts as a part of a serious counterinsurgency campaign. Your appointments of General Stanley McChrystal as top commander and David Rodriguez as second in command in Afghanistan exemplified the seriousness of purpose you spoke about during the campaign. We are heartened to see that the much needed overhaul of our military operations has begun.
Since the announcement of your administration’s new strategy, we have been troubled by calls for a drawdown of American forces in Afghanistan and a growing sense of defeatism about the war. With General McChrystal expected to request additional troops later this month, we urge you to continue on the path you have taken thus far and give our commanders on the ground the forces they need to implement a successful counterinsurgency strategy. There is no middle course. Incrementally committing fewer troops than required would be a grave mistake and may well lead to American defeat. We will not support half-measures that repeat the errors of the past.
This is, as you have said, a war that we cannot afford to lose. Failure to defeat the Taliban would likely lead to a return of al Qaeda to Afghanistan and could result in terrorist attacks on the United States or our allies. An abandonment of Afghanistan would further destabilize the region, and put neighboring Pakistan and its nuclear arsenal at risk. All our efforts to support Islamabad’s fight against the Taliban in Pakistan’s tribal regions will founder if we do not match those achievements on the other side of that country’s porous northwestern border.
As you observed during the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign, “You don’t muddle through the central front on terror and you don’t muddle through going after bin Laden. You don’t muddle through stamping out the Taliban.” We completely agree. Having “muddled through” in Afghanistan for years, this is no longer a politically, strategically, or morally sustainable approach.
Mr. President, you have put in place the military leadership and sent the initial resources required to begin bringing this war to a successful conclusion. The military leadership has devised a strategy that will reverse the errors of previous years, free Afghans from the chains of tyranny, and keep America safe. We call on you to fully resource this effort, do everything possible to minimize the risk of failure, and to devote the necessary time to explain, soberly and comprehensively, to the American people the stakes in Afghanistan, the route to success, and the cost of defeat.
With the continued bravery of our troops, and your continued full support for them and their command team, America and our allies can and will prevail in Afghanistan.
Eliot A. Cohen
Ryan C. Crocker
William S. Edgerly
Jamie M. Fly
Frederick W. Kagan
Robert C. McFarlane
And what Democrat has confidently said, “I was against the war before I was for the war.” It’s all abut politics. Screw Afganistan! If Islam is truly the religion of peace, where are the Saudis?
I say let the Taliban have Afganistan. The poppy production stops, and heroin supplies dry up. Strikes me as a win -win
Islam forbids fighting those who aren’t fighting you. Only defensive wars are permissible under Sharia traditions. That said, we’ve been fighting them and stealing their resources long before 9/11. That doesn’t justify 9/11 but it certainly wasn’t the first offense.
The list of signatories reminds me of an old lawyer joke, tasteless but nevertheless apropos here:
What’s the difference between an accident and a tragedy?
An accident is a busload of lawyers going off a cliff. A tragedy is — one empty seat.
Must we hear again about the defensive nature of Islam? Who was attacking the Arabs when they poured out of the Arabian peninsula and conquered half of the known world? Were the Balkan peoples attacking the Turks in the Middle Ages? They were not. The Turks crossed into Europe and initiated conflict. Actions are what matter. Islam has been as aggressive as any religion — indeed, only Christianity matches it in its aggressive expansionism. If the Islamic nations of today weren’t all third or fourth rate powers, they’d be over here trying to conquer us infidels.
While the Ottoman empire had grown to fail it’s Islamic ideals, I have a hard time believing that the initial expansion of the Islamic empire through those early lands was militaristic. It would have been nearly impossible to spread that fast. Of course then Islam represented liberty and less taxes relative to the feudal model most people were under.
Clearly all faiths are in the hands of men, and human institutions are prone to excesses and wrongs. The Islamic empire spread faster than Alexander’s conquest and offered the philosophical underpinnings to our own enlightenment. Spinoza and Descartes were both influenced by the Muslim rule of Andalusia. Verily Western logic is rooted in Aristotelian logic itself a hand-down from Muslim translators. This history was/is deliberately hidden from us. I just learned today about Descartes’ being influenced by the Moors. The first doctrinaire assertion of Atheism (Al Ghazali) roots to the Islamic courts of Baghdad, where Jews, Christians, Muslims Chinese and Indians all studied together.
That said, do we know for sure that the later crusades and other campaigns weren’t raised against Istanbul? I don’t wish to over-state the righteousness of anyone, though we might again have a Western propagandized version of this too.
I wouldn’t dispute that the Crusades were aggression. I also wouldn’t dispute that Islam’s early success was in part achieved because the Arab yoke was lighter than the Byzantine. That doesn’t change the fact that the Arab conquests resulted from aggressive military campaigns. I’m glad to see you admit this as regards the Ottomans. As I said, actions and not words are what matter.
By the way, for an interesting theory on why Islam was so successful so quickly, see Spengler’s “Decline of the West.” I don’t have the time to look up the volume and page number, but I’m sure you can locate the relevant part or parts in the index.
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