Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Former Bush Adviser: US Should Devise a SOFA with Afghanistan

At Bloomberg, Meghan O'Sullivan, a former Bush adviser (now at Harvard) who once drew kudos both for her policy prescriptions and her glamorous looks, weighs in on the impending Afghanistan withdrawal with a proposal that, IMO, seems all too clever by half: a Status of Forces agreement (SOFA) between the US and the Karzai government. 

In essence, it's a legally cute means of ensuring a long-term US presence in a country where (as O'Sullivan, as a so-called expert, ought to know) that presence is
  • (1) arguably doing more harm than good in the country itself, and certainly among its people, who have had it up to their eyeballs with night raids and other high-handedness of the US military;
  • (2) costing the US more than it can any longer afford, and
  • (3) doing nothing to advance our relations with regional powers, especially China, Russia, and - yes - Iran.  Let's face it: Iran is a major regional power; Iran has every reason to aspire to such a status; and even if the ayatollahs were to disappear tomorrow and a liberal secular government come to power, Iranians are not likely to give up their country's nuclear aspirations or rush into the embrace of either the US or Israel - the two countries that the US would like most to see dominate the Middle East.

Obama needs to
  • follow through on his pledge to withdraw US forces;
  • ignore idiots like Lindsey Graham who demand that the US maintain permanent bases in Afghanistan (though only if the Afghans prove themselves worthy of such largesse); and
  • quit thinking about US "force projection" overseas and focus instead on ensuring that American society and values move no farther down the chute of imperial overstretch.

He said it was time to focus on nation-building in the US.  Get 'er done.

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