Mark Steyn asks a good question: What is our strategy in Afghanistan? But I suppose this question can be asked of those, such as George Will, who urge our departure: What is our strategy after we leave? I think we can agree that the fig-leaf Will urges, special forces on the border, etc., would be less useful than the force structure we currently have inside Afghanistan.
After we helped force the Soviets out of Afghanistan a few decades ago, we did indeed leave the country. I don’t need to relate what occurred thereafter, do I? The problem is that Obama is cutting the defense budget, he is undermining our intelligence system, and he is pulling troops from Iraq without reconsidering the pace of that action; and now some encourage him to pull out of Afghanistan because the administration lacks a policy there? Shouldn’t we be arguing against the defense cuts, against the assault on our intelligence apparatus, and for a more aggressive and effective use of economic and military resources in Afghanistan? I am unclear what prudential course Will and others would have us take. An Afghanistan left to its own devices clearly is a danger to our nation, as was demonstrated on 9/11. If we leave, then what?
As for nation-building, there are times to be for it and times to be against it. The Marshall Plan was all about nation-building, but not in the abstract. If it serves American national-security interests, and can be coherently justified as such, then it’s prudent. Nation-building in, say, Haiti, would be ridiculous. The general test is whether doing so helps protect our country. To have a doctrinaire objection to it under all circumstances would be imprudent.