Jake Tapper has a long story today at Salon about how we’re failing in Afghanistan. The comparisons are pretty obvious, we “liberated” Afghanistan at the end of 2002, promising big piles of foreign aid and a new, better life for Afghans. None of that has come to pass, though. It’s basically the same shooting gallery it was under the Taliban and before the Taliban. Iraq obviously has a number of advantages over Afghanistan — it sits on a bunch of oil, it’s in a strategic location, and it has a much more educated citizenry. Even so, getting it back on its feet is going to take a lot of work, and I wonder whether anyone has the tenacity to see it through.
I don’t think this is a problem exclusive to the US. While in the aftermath of World War II, the victorious powers made sure that Japan and Germany were rebuilt, since then the record for turning countries around is really pretty spotty. I don’t think the US is worse than anyone else at babysitting ravaged countries until they can stand on their own two feet. I just don’t think anyone is really good at it. We have a lot of domestic problems in this country, and we have an administration that is clearly more interested in destabilizing the world rather than stabilizing it. So I don’t think that rebuilding Afghanistan or Iraq is really their agenda, and I don’t think it will hold the attention of most of our citizens. In the meantime, there are powerful people in this country who’d like to see regime change in bunches of other countries as well. Personally, I’d like to see us actually fix a country, any old country, first.