Last night Greta Van Sustren had a brief yet insightful interview with Henry Kissinger. Dr. Kissinger gave a measured dose of approbation for the President’s speech with a few caveats. The entire interview is just a few minutes and worth watching.
Dr. Kissinger emphasized that this should be a counterinsurgency battle, focused on local regions, in the hope of securing local tribes and communities now — the goal that at some future point, a centralized governance will be possible. The main reason for the Soviets’ defeat in Afghanistan, Dr. Kissinger states, was their failure to recognize the futility of trying to impose a centralized government on a region that has never been unified. Eventually, Russia, China, and India will also need to be brought into the political process in an effort to recognize their interest in a secure and stable Afghanistan. This will require diplomacy and this will require time.
Which leads to the essential concern in Obama’s new strategy. A full-blown commitment becomes impotent given an arbitrary or illogical timeline. If we are to see success in that region, rooting out and neutralizing the Taliban, time-lines need to kneel to tenacity. Additional troops are only one part of the Afghanistan solution. Time is the other.
As Dr. Kissinger implied, a commitment to withdraw troops after 18 months is disconcerting; at best, it should only be seen as aspirational — it should be seen as “a hope rather than a commitment.”