Meet The Press For 5/10/09

Meet The Press For 5/10/09


Afghanistan’s President Hamad Karzai and Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari meet with David Gregory to talk about the problems in their countries.

Question: can the problems in Pakistan and Afghanistan be solved or will this be Obama’s Iraq?


  • ExiledIndependent

    Obama’s Vietnam, not Iraq. Stunning that we haven’t learned much from the Russians and their experience there.

  • kranky kritter

    Can the problems in Pakistan and Afghanistan be solved or will this be Obama’s Iraq?

    That’s a weird way to ask it, because with a lot of the problems in Iraq, there has been substantial progress. They have a constitution and a government and a growing security force and a decreased level of violence.

    Pakistan is more modern and developed, and I think they’re in the process of trying to step away more strongly from fundamentalist islam, now that they have seen what tolerating it sows. Can they do it? That’s up to Pakistanis. They’ve been schizophrenic for some time, and they need to choose together to embrace modernity once and for all. Or they go with half measures that lead to more back and forths over the coming years.

    Afghanistan is the toughest nut, because it lacks a strong national identity or an established socioeconomic culture. If it were to get as far as Iraq has that would qualify as miracle, IMO.

    IMO, there’s a high probability that we invaded Iraq in large part because Afghanistan represented too tough a spot for even semi-successful nation-building. Afghanistan is definitely “Obama’s Iraq” Since you ask. Will he be graded as toughly as Bush was, or will he get a mulligan? For now, it’s a mulligan, just like with most things a new President can say he inherited. Over time though, it becomes his baby.

    Obama seems to be looking for something of an escalation. Presumably he is banking on this effort becoming something more international. How will he respond if and when he discovers how much more interested Europe et al are in talking and lecturing than doing? How will he respond when Europe declines to foot much of the bill or provide much in the way of soldiers?

    I am unconvinced that there really is such a thing as unified nation of Afghanistan eager to band together and define its destiny as a single unit.Just as with Iraq, we can’t want stable unified democracy for Afghanistan more than Afghanis themselves.

    Likely, this all gets dumped in the lap of the UN, and that’s liable to be pretty unsatisfactory, because we foot most of the bill and contribute most of the soldiers. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion about various approaches. For my part, I have very serious doubts about whether some sort of “multinational peacekeeping force” will be able to achieve anything useful in the environment of Afghanistan. It’s a very fractured and undeveloped place with no dominant ethnicity, little economy, multiple interethnic tensions, many petty fiefdoms ruled via force, and plenty of experienced fighters who will oppose whatever we try to establish.

    The sooner Obama starts lowering expectations for what we can achieve in Afghanistan, the sooner we’ll know he’s starting to get it. OR, it will indeed become his albatross, due to some sort “yes we can” hubris. For everyone’s sake, I hope Obama has already learned some sort of lesson about the dangers of wanting something for someone more than they want it themselves.