Stephen M. Walt

Moving the goal posts on Afghanistan

So far, the big news from the NATO Summit in Lisbon is that the United States is trying to change the "sell by" date in Afghanistan. Instead of July 2011, the new deadline for victory is going to be sometime in 2014. Right. In policy terms, this is called "kicking the can down the road." ...

So far, the big news from the NATO Summit in Lisbon is that the United States is trying to change the "sell by" date in Afghanistan. Instead of July 2011, the new deadline for victory is going to be sometime in 2014. Right.

In policy terms, this is called "kicking the can down the road." At that point, I’m betting we’ll declare victory and get out, via the same sort of blue-smoke-and-mirrors ("the surge worked") that we used in Iraq. Except that as with Iraq,  there will still be thousands of U.S. troops there and we will still be spending billions of dollars trying to create a workable Afghan state. This is good news for corrupt Afghans, but not the U.S. taxpayer or, in the longer term, the U.S. military. 

Stephen M. Walt is the Robert and Renée Belfer professor of international relations at Harvard University.

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