Back in January, when Iraq was having its elections and Republicans were wandering around with purple fingers and pretending that they'd made those historical votes themselves, President Bush said that he was prepared to pull out of Iraq should the new government so request. Now, the Iraqi government hasn't actually made that request, which would be a foolish thing to do considering the current unrest (she says mildly). But someone else has.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai didn't even ask Bush to pull US troops out of Afghanistan; he just wants more authority over the troops currently occupying his ostensibly democratic country. Bush said no.
In his defense, Bush did make the point that "of course, our troops will respond to US commanders." And it makes sense that they should. The US military comes as a complete package with chains of command established; they're not mercenaries ready to be parcelled out one by one to whomever needs them next. And also in Bush's defense, recent riots over desecration of the Quran as reported by Newsweek indicate that Afghanistan might not be the most stable of nations. But it's a sovereign nation and a democratic nation.
President Bush's favorite words are liberty and freedom. He loves talking about spreading democracy to nations newly freed from tyranny. The democratic elections in Afghanistan and Iraq were claimed as triumphs for the Bush administration. Now it's time for Bush to show how much he really loves democracy. If he really loves it, if he's all about freedom and liberty, he'll let the democratically elected Afghan government take control of its country. If he doesn't like the way they run the country, if he thinks it puts US troops in danger, he can pull them out, but he can't threaten Afghanistan's sovereignty. It's one thing to invade a country under the tyrannical rule of a dictator or theocratic government (and whether or not that's okay is another debate for another time); it's another thing entirely to keep unseating democratically elected governments until you find one you like, or to play shadow president with a country that has a president of its very own. If Bush is really confident that he did the right thing in bringing freedom and democracy to Afghanistan, then he needs to back off and let them use it.
Cross-posted at Practically Harmless.
One person's opinion. We invaded Afghanistan to kill terrorists and to topple the Taliban who were supporters of terrorists. Bringing democracy there was an after-thought. Afghanistan has no history of strong centrealized government. Today it is still largely a tribal society. The central government there only exists because we prop it up. My guess is that the centralized government that does exist is still made up of essentially tribal folks who aren't fans of each other. "Consulting" with that lot over military operations would probably be more dangerous for our troops because where that information may land is questionable.
A functioning democracy, that can maintain order, in Afghanistan is generations away. We'll be there for 30 years by my estimate. That's a place in need of some serious modernization and education and that won't happen very fast. I think that Karzai was dumb to have even asked the question. He should have realized that the US Military is in Afghanistan at this point more for our own national security interests than as a protector/tool of his government. We are not there for them, that's a side benefit to the elected government. We are there for ourselves and would not leave if he asked us to.
To say that Karzai was dumb to have even asked the question completely ignores the fact that the man does, in fact, have a responsibility to his people to act as their representative. His people want their country back. Whether they are right or wrong, Karzai's first obligation is to the people he serves, and second to Bush. Karzai knew the answer he'd get, I'm guessing; he's no dummy. But he had a duty to ask the question, and good on him for doing it.
And maybe sowing a few seeds now isn't a bad idea...
And your point is?
Steve, you seem to be working under the impression that it's okay for Country A to hang around in and run Country B if it's in Country A's best interest, and it's my impression that it's not okay. There are plenty of countries out there that would be better off with us in charge, and we'd be better off if we were in charge of them, but we're not going to go in and take over because it's just not our place. A sovereign nation is a sovereign nation is a sovereign nation. I can think of a couple of countries that would probably feel safer if they were running our country instead of the current administration, but they don't, because a) we'd blow them up, and b) it wouldn't be right.
You want to talk about a country that would be less of a threat if we were in charge, let's look at Saudi Arabia. When I see Bush marching US troops into Riyadh, then we'll talk more about your theory.
Megs, It depends on whether he gets political mileage at home from looking like he has a backbone versus looking like a political puppy who got smacked by his master and losing political capital. Obviously his call.
acg, No argument expect it's not a theory. It is what it is. Right or wrong. Our government, both Republicans and Democrats, believe what we are doing in Afghanistan in the right thing and we'll keep on doing it until we don't have to anymore.
Steve is of the belief that we will be there 30 years because that is how long Halliburton needs our troops to secure the gas pipeline they are building.
Anyone else with as well thought out and insightful arguments as Bill? Hard to top, eh?
Anyone else want to make up an estimated length of military stays in foreign countries off the top of their head with no basis in either fact or experience? Hard to fathom reasoning like that, eh?
Anon, I wasn't going to respond to your comment, that like Bill's, does nothing to further the debate, but I'm bored, so I will. If you look back over the last 125 years or so of US history, you'll find only 2 examples of where the US deployed significant military force (for arguments sake, let's say 10k+ troops) to a country or region and left in a very short period of time (for arguments sake, let's say 30 years). Let's get those out of the way 1st.
Vietnam - We ran out (not a judgement statement, just a fact). Probably a good thing for us. Debatable for the folks left behind.
Germany and WWI. Huge mistake. Were back there 20 odd years later cleaning up.
Once we get somewhere in force, we generally don't leave any time soon, whether we're invading, liberating or occupying (choose your own characterization).
Now in reverse order.
Kuwait - 15 years... Still there.
Korea - 50+ years... Still there.
Japan - 60+ years... Still there.
Germany - 60+ years... Still there.
Italy - 60+ years... Still there.
Philippines - Left after about 40 or 50 years.
Cuba - 100+ years... Still there.
Canada - 200+ years... Still there (shhhh. don't tell them)
Now Anon, to your well thought out and insightful argument... Sorry... You didn't really have one did you, eh?
So Steve, you would allege that Canada, the Philippines, Germany, Italy, Japan and South Korea are not functioning democracies? Are you saying that Cuba is closer to democratic self rule because we are there?
Are you an idiot?
Also Stevie, what steps should we take to bring about democratic rule in Kuwait? Bush and Rummy both say we can be out of Iraq in 36 months, how long do you have figured for us there? Surely you are not doubting the word of your fearless leaders?
Kosovo? Anyone remember Kosovo? Bill and Maddy said we would be out in a year and we're still there over ten years later.
Don't generally do this, but can't help it. Bill, YOU...ARE...A... Fucking Idiot.
Ohhhh testy when the truth rears its ugly head Stevie?
All I asked were a few simple questions, can't you answer them?
I rest my case.
Well come on big guy, you call me an idiot, show me how stupid I am. Tell me that Canada, the Philippines, Germany, Italy, Japan and South Korea are not functioning democracies and thus our troops are still needed there else they would fall into social chaos.
Tell me how Bush and Rummy are wrong and how long we will be in Iraq.
Come on Stevie, you are quick to call names but slow to defend your own quasi intellectual bullshit. In the end all you have is bullshit though, and when someone shows you for the bullshitter that you are, you can only respond by name calling. That's about par for the course from you right wingers.
And another thing Stevie boy, you are of the belief that the american soldier can't bring democracy to Afganistan in less than 30 years.... Who's side are you on there Mr. Bin Laden? I think you have alot of gaul calling those brave men and women incompetent when they are over there risking thier lives for you. Supporting the troops is more than buying a yellow ribbon! It is also not giving aid and comfort to the Talibans, Baathists and Al quida's of the world with your treacherous words and deeds!
Bill, you win.
Yeah, like that's a surprise.
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