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by Rory Stewart
Thursday, Jul. 08, 2010 at 7:27 PM
"The president succumbed to the dominant assumptions of the last two decades... Our think tanks and governments have also developed their own metaphysical structures, labeling them "failed states," or "counter-insurgency.."
"These theories can be made to seem absurd and indeed future generations may wonder, as we do about 8th century mysticism, why the beliefs of so many powerful and intelligent people were shaped by such eccentric systems. But seen from within our own historical context, or from behind a desk in the Oval Office, these theories are emotionally appealing, intellectually intimidating and often profitable. On their own terms feel almost impossible to refute.
Take, for example, the master-concept behind Obama's surge, namely that in order to prevent Afghanistan posing a terrorist threat it was necessary to launch full-spectrum counter-insurgency operations. It is possible, of course, to expose the curious premises, analogies and chains of inductive logic which imply our activities in 2010 are an efficient way of preventing another terrorist attack. And 20 years from now, we may struggle to explain why we once felt Afghanistan required the deployment of 100,000 troops or the spending 0 billion each year -- why it required far more resources and attention than its more powerful and populous neighbors Iran or Pakistan...
European countries feel trapped by their relationship with NATO and the United States. Holbrooke and Obama feel trapped by the position of American generals. And everyone -- politicians, generals, diplomats and journalist -- feels trapped by our grand theories and beset by the guilt of having already lost over a thousand NATO lives, spent a hundred billion dollars and made a number of promises to Afghans and the West which we are unlikely to be able to keep.
So powerful are these cultural assumptions, these historical and economic forces and these psychological tendencies, that even if every world leader privately concluded the operation was unlikely to succeed, it is almost impossible to imagine the US or its allies halting the counter-insurgency in Afghanistan in the years to come. Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa may have been in a similar position during the Third Crusade. Former US President Lyndon B. Johnson certainly was in 1963. Europe is simply in Afghanistan because America is there. America is there just because it is. And all our policy debates are scholastic dialectics to justify this singular but not entirely comprehensible fact."
to read the article published in: Spiegel July 1, 2010, click on
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