Henley's got the linkage. Read it. Meanwhile, let me quote his fourth point in its entirety:
4. You can make a case that al-Qaeda’s second life in Waziristan is a result of the US getting “distracted” from Afghanistan by Iraq, but you can make at least as good a case that events show the pointlessness of invading Afghanistan in the first place. The political limitations on attacking Pakistan were always going to be there, whether the US invaded Iraq or not. There may have been better, less military means of g0ing Bin Laden and his brain trust after the massacres of September 11, 2001. The US as a whole and the Bush Administration in particular may have put more premium on the emotional satisfaction of hitting somebody than the bona fide achievement of shutting down the 9/11 killers. In other words, the current situation in Waziristan should make us reconsider the merits of the most marginalized figures in Western politics, the Afghan-war doves.I was an Afghan-war dove. Here is what I wrote this January:
There may be military responses, but there are no solutions. The attacks of September 11, 2001--the apparrant casus belli for the Afghanistan invasion--were carried out by Saudis trained in mobile camps in a foreign country. That it occured in Afghanistan under a government that gave aid or shelter is really immaterial. There are any number of governments that would let any number of people do any number of things for the right kinds and amounts of kickbacks. The idea that deposing a government, bombing some encampments that--by video evidence at least--seem constructed entirely of canvas tents and jungle gyms, and propping up some marginally more friendly ethnic group as a new government serves materially to decrease either the capacity of non-state actors or to mitigate against their intentions is foolishness. And the inevitable outcome in Afghanistan, which we see clearly now, is that there will once again be internal strife until this or that group establishes dominance, or until several achieve equilibrium, and then everyone will go right on herding goats and growing poppy and firing off an occasional celebratory round or two on the old Kalishnikov. As it is, was, and ever shall be.We will "lose" in Afghanistan because at some point--sooner rather than later on the timescale of an actually old civilization--we're going to pack up and go home. Perhaps, as certain liberals are now fond of suggesting for Iraq, we will "declare victory and withdraw." Perhaps we'll sort of slink off as the public attention further erodes. Who knows? Who cares? They have their millennia-old folkways and we have our omnibus budgets and patriotic parades and "obesity epidemics" and neverending Presidential election cycles and "severe weather teams" and "people of faith" and petty rivalries with the social-democratic states of continental Europe.
If the goal was "smashing the Taliban and al Qaeda," then it was as foolish as fighting a pond by throwing rocks at it. If the goal was the nobler, more sentimental line of "Democracy, Now!" then it was even more foolish. Here's one reason. Why it is so difficult to appreciate our own social systems and systems of governance as cultural artifacts, specific to our history and economy, tied up in particular cultural premises, produced through a long accrual of peculiar conditions and philosophical developments, is entirely beyond me. I like individualism; I like markets; I like limited government. These, to me, are all quite excellent ideas. But I don't delude myself by presuming them the steady-state, universal condition of liberated Man.
Our problems are products of our solutions. America, you must change your life.