Gregory Scoblete: Rewriting the History on Afghanistan
Republican National Committee Chairmen Michael Steele made headlines earlier this month when he declared that Afghanistan was "Obama's war." Speaking to candidates at a party fundraiser in Connecticut, Steele said of the war in Afghanistan: "This is not something the United States had actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in."
The implication of Steele's remarks was obvious: The naive liberals in the Obama administration want to nation-build in Afghanistan, while the flinty-eyed Bush administration knew better. Steele's soliloquy on Afghanistan drew attention, but it was not an isolated thought in conservative circles.
Former Bush speechwriter David Frum argued in the National Post that President Bush had "opted against nation-building" in Afghanistan after weighing the costs carefully, whereas Obama continues to plunge ahead blindly. Columnist Ann Coulter voiced a similar sentiment in a column addressing Steele's comments. "Having some vague concept of America's national interest - unlike liberals - the Bush administration could see," argued Coulter, "that a country of illiterate peasants living in caves ruled by ‘warlords' was not a primo target for ‘nation-building.'"
To be sure, this is not the mainstream conservative view of the Afghan war. Hours after Steele's comments had circulated the Web, he was immediately denounced by one of the stewards of conservative foreign policy orthodoxy, the Weekly Standard's William Kristol.
Yet as the causalities mount, NATO partners slip out and American patience wears thin, we may yet see some version of the Steele/Frum narrative gain ground. And Kristol is right in one respect - it's quite important to nip this incipient revisionism in the bud, because it's blatantly false. The Bush administration did indeed try nation-building in Afghanistan - they just did a bad job of it (to be fair, it's impossible to do a good job, as the Obama administration is seemingly hell-bent on demonstrating)...
comments powered by Disqus
Arnold Shcherban - 7/27/2010
That's what both sides of the Democrat-Republican coin dollar do when for years deliberating on Afghan war issue.
What had to be said from the very start, though is the following:
this war has been and still is the war of AGGRESSION and OCCUPATION against the expressed will of Afghani majority, and therefore has to be stopped immediately with the full and complete withdrawal of all NATO troops and elimination of the foreign military bases built there, followed by the full recognition of whatever government (Taliban or not) Afghanistan's population will elect in a really democratic process under the UN supervision, plus the prosecution of NATO (especially US and UK's) military and political leadership for war crimes.
But, of course, in this one-sided world, the actions described above can only be dreamed of.
- Harvard's Steven Shapin Wins History of Science Award
- Middle East Studies Association Fights a Rising Tide of Critics
- Juan Cole says the postwar Middle East governments were modeled on the Soviet Union, though not communist (interview)
- Ted Widmer picks the 5 best presidential books worth reading
- AHA backs California's LGBT History law