Wednesday, January 06, 2010

One of these things is not like the other

Charles Krauthammer on Fox News, on U.S. intervention in Afghanistan --

It is not a place we want to go and invade. ... It is a wild place. ... It's never had a strong central government. It's got secessionist in the north, Tajiks in the west who are Iranians clients. It is so complicated it's almost incomprehensible.

All we can do is have our weaponry in place, like the Predators, gather intelligence, give intelligence, and work with the unreliable central government. It is not a place where you want to start a war.

But remember, the Saudis and Pakistanis are in that area and they are on our side. I would rather have the locals involved in the war than [have] the direct involvement of the United States.

We cheated. It's Krauthammer on US intervention in Yemen, arguing for a minimal approach. We've changed some of the location references but not the spirit of his argument.

But then the question is why does he not apply the same logic to Afghanistan. Of course this itself suggests a counterargument in that he is describing the 1980s-90s approach to Afghanistan -- get the Saudis and Pakistanis to manage the fighting and stay on the side watching.

That worked out real well.

So there is no easy solution to Yemen. But the above suggests that making policy pronouncements based on talking point descriptions of countries -- which is all he appears to have for Yemen -- is not very helpful, since the talking points will be too sparse to distinguish cases from each other.

UPDATE: More from Matthew Yglesias, although to be fair, his apparent prescription of leaving these trouble spots to their fate didn't work out so well in post-Soviet Afghanistan either.

No comments: