The Corner

Hagel on Afghanistan

In his opening statement at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee today, Senator Chuck Hagel said that after we withdraw from Afghanistan in 2014, the mission of our forces should be restricted to counterterrorism and training Afghan security forces.

But hasn’t that been their whole mission all along? 

It’s not an idle question. From the start, the problem in devising the right strategy for Afghanistan was the tension between (1) a light-footprint mission focused on search-and-destroy counterterrorism, without regard to whether the country as a whole might or might not be falling to pieces, and (2) a mission focused on building up the institutions and security forces of the Afghan state so that Afghanistan would never again become a safe haven for terrorism.  

The resulting strategy has been a mix of both, because the Pentagon long ago properly concluded that institution-building (“partnership capacity building”) is necessary for counterterrorism.

So, of those things we’re doing in Afghanistan right now, which presumably the Pentagon thinks are necessary for counterterrorism, which does Hagel think are not necessary for counterterrorism? That, it seems to me, is the key question for this hearing on the issue of Afghanistan. 

Mario Loyola — Contributing editor Mario Loyola is senior fellow and Director of the Center for Competitive Federalism at the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty. He began his career in corporate ...

Most Popular


Courage: The Greatest of Virtues

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is Jonah Goldberg’s weekly “news”letter, the G-File. Subscribe here to get the G-File delivered to your inbox on Fridays. Dear Reader (Or Listener), As the reporter assigned the job of writing the article about all of Sidney Blumenthal’s friends and supporters told his ... Read More

My American Dream

This morning, at 8 a.m., I did something I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember: I became an American. I first applied for a visa in early 2011, and since then I have slowly worked my way through the system — first as a visa-holder, then as a permanent resident (green card), and, finally, as a ... Read More

The Gun-Control Debate Could Break America

Last night, the nation witnessed what looked a lot like an extended version of the famous “two minutes hate” from George Orwell’s novel 1984. During a CNN town hall on gun control, a furious crowd of Americans jeered at two conservatives, Marco Rubio and Dana Loesch, who stood in defense of the Second ... Read More