Afghanistan: The Proxy War

October 11, 2009

No serious person thinks that Afghanistan - remote, impoverished, barely qualifying as a nation-state - seriously matters to the United States. Yet with the war in its ninth year, the passions raised by the debate over how to proceed there are serious indeed. Afghanistan elicits such passions because people understand that in rendering his decision on Afghanistan, President Obama will declare himself on several much larger issues. In this sense, Afghanistan is a classic proxy war, with the main protagonists here in the United States.

The question of the moment, framed by the prowar camp, goes like this: Will the president approve the Afghanistan strategy proposed by his handpicked commander General Stanley McChrystal? Or will he reject that plan and accept defeat, thereby inviting the recurrence of 9/11 on an even larger scale? Yet within this camp the appeal of the McChrystal plan lies less in its intrinsic merits, which are exceedingly dubious, than in its implications.

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This article was published in the Boston Globe, October 11, 2009, and can be read in its entirety here.


Andrew J. Bacevich is professor of history and international relations at Boston University and a member of the Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy. His new book Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War is forthcoming.

Posted by coalition at October 11, 2009 11:24 AM

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