Editorials

Cradle of Empire

As of October, the U.S. has been fighting a war in Afghanistan for fully 17 years.  Young men who were not even born when the war started are now almost of an age to serve and be deployed.  And if that’s the case with our forces, you can just imagine how many of today’s Taliban are younger than the war they’re fighting.  Whatever we have been doing in the graveyard of empires for the better part of 20 years, it has only succeeded in giving us a new generation of enemies.  Yet we stay because no one imagines the government of Ashraf Ghani or any other American client would last more than a year without us.  So much for counterinsurgency doctrine, to say nothing of nation-building.

Would a Taliban-run Afghanistan be an uncontainable threat?  Not exactly.  The fear that Washington policymakers invoke is of Afghanistan becoming once again a terrorist magnet and haven, from which more plots like the 9/11 attacks could be hatched.  But as an alternative to occupying Afghanistan for a century, perhaps the better way to prevent another 9/11 would be to welcome fewer Saudis into our own country and its flight schools.  Most of the 9/11 hijackers were here on expired or otherwise faulty visas.  An immigration policy that took national security seriously would have dealt with them.  Instead, we keep our own borders permeable and try to police those of Afghanistan.

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