Thursday, April 15, 2010

Afghanistan: No way to make friends


U.S. troops in Afghanistan have been gunning down civilians again. This time they apparently shot up a bus on a main road, killing four passengers.

General McChrystal wants such incidents stopped. He argues sensibly that the U.S. will never make friends with Afghans if our troops keep shooting people randomly.

Matthew Yglesias has sensible things to say about such incidents:

It's not that our troops are bad people. It's that war is dangerous. The consequences of not pulling the trigger when you think you see someone swinging a rocket launcher in the direction of your helicopter are extremely severe -- you die. Your friends die. On the flip side, the consequences of being a bit too trigger-happy are, of course, terrible for the people who wind up dead and bad for the mission but not so severe for you personally. Under the circumstances, it's clear that no matter how many pious speeches from generals imply otherwise, any military force composed of normal human beings is going to err on the side of killing too many innocent people.

All this argues for avoiding wars, and ending inherited ones quickly, unless there is a clear necessity for fighting and a discernible endpoint. But the administration has completely failed to tell us what "winning" in Afghanistan would look like or what changes there would amount to an end. So our guys keep shooting and the command keeps apologizing lamely.

Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), and two Congressmen, Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Walter Jones (R-NC), have introduced a bill to push the Obama administration to develop a plan to get us out of Afghanistan and report on it to Congress. Makes sense, though our Congresscritters won't go there unless we let them know we want them to. Back to the phones ...

1 comment:

naveed ahmad khan said...
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