As the number of British dead in Afghanistan passes 200, support for this war is starting to look wobbly. But, it might be thought, the clincher is that the US are still there, and still for seeing it through. Don’t you believe it.
Because in today’s Washington Post, columnist George F Will has said in forthright and unequivocal terms that the time has come to get out. The Post is a serious and often influential voice from the US’ Mainstream Media. And Will puts it plainly: we’re propping up a corrupt régime, the Taliban aren’t being permanently cleared out of regions like Helmand, the Kabul Government exercises control over no more than a third of the country, and it is estimated that only Somalia has a weaker state.
Also, the USA has the permanent spectre of Vietnam to remind its leaders what happens when an incumbent Government and its armed forces aren’t in control of their own country. It is worth recalling J K Galbraith’s analysis of the prospect faced by the USA in Indo-China:
“The saving of South Vietnam allied the United States with individuals whose moral posture few could defend. The gallery included corrupt and despotic politicians, corrupt and cowardly generals and a vast assortment of independent larcenists”
[The Age of Uncertainty, p249]
Fast forward half a century, substitute Afghanistan for South Vietnam, and there you have it. There will be more voices calling for an end to this involvement, and if the USA goes, we will have to go too.
Will ends by quoting Charles de Gaulle: “Genius ... sometimes consists of knowing when to stop”. Quite.