"Oh look. Those puny neocon Earthlings are planning World War III in the Middle East. Guess I won't need that Illudium PU-36 Explosive Space Modulator after all."
Via Daily Kos, we find Charles Krauthammer, who (naturally) thinks leaving Situation FUBAR is a bad idea. In the first three paragraphs, he dismisses the Democratic claims that Afghanistan is where the war on terror should be fought. You remember Afghanistan? The place where Osama and his goon squad were hiding out amidst a motley assortment of religious fundie freaks?
"Of all the arguments for pulling out of Iraq, the greater importance of Afghanistan is the least serious," Krauthammer says. In truth, he insists, Afghanistan is not as important as Situation FUBAR.
Yeah, I responded to that with a big "Whuh?" too.
It would all be just another pile of wrongheaded neocon slop if Krauthammer didn't start channeling the Weekly World News:
Thought experiment: Bring in a completely neutral observer -- a Martian -- and point out to him that the United States is involved in two hot wars against radical Islamic insurgents. One is in Afghanistan, a geographically marginal backwater with no resources and no industrial or technological infrastructure. The other is in Iraq, one of the three principal Arab states, with untold oil wealth, an educated population, an advanced military and technological infrastructure that, though suffering decay in the later years of Saddam Hussein's rule, could easily be revived if it falls into the right (i.e., wrong) hands. Add to that the fact that its strategic location would give its rulers inordinate influence over the entire Persian Gulf region, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the Gulf states. Then ask your Martian: Which is the more important battle? He would not even understand why you are asking the question.
Well, maybe he would if you had a Martian-to-English dictionary, but that's beside the point.
"Of course, as a Martian, I have no idea why Mr. Krauthammer is asking this question, either. Before the United States invaded Iraq, the latter nation had nothing to do with the war on terror. As you Earthlings would say, 'Duh.' The only reason anyone mentions 'Iraq' and 'war on terror' in the same sentence is because Mr. Krauthammer and his fellow neocons did so."
Methinks Krauthammer et al. don't like being reminded of Afghanistan, it seems. I mean, Krauthammer conveniently forgets that we abandoned a crumbling wreck of a nation, worn out by years of war, to invade a tin-pot dictatorship that even he admits was collapsing from within. Folks, this is like eating at Wendy's instead of McDonald's.
And in his sniffy dismissal of Afghanistan as the "backwater" of Central Asia, he ignores the Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline. You read that correctly. Trans-AFGHANISTAN Pipeline. And what is this pipeline?
The Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline (TAP or TAPI) is a proposed natural gas pipeline being developed by the Asian Development Bank. The pipeline will transport Caspian Sea natural gas from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan into Pakistan and then to India.
The 1,680 km pipeline will run from the Dauletabad gas field to Afghanistan. From there TAPI will be constructed alongside the highway running from Herat to Kandahar, and then via Quetta and Multan in Pakistan. The final destination of the pipeline will be the Indian town of Fazilka, near the border between Pakistan and India. The pipeline will be 1,420 mm in diameter with a working pressure of 100 atm and the capacity of 33 billion cubic meter (bcm) of natural gas annually. Six compressor stations are to be constructed along the pipeline. The cost of this international infrastructure is estimated at US$3.5 billion (2005 figures). Proponents of the project see it as a modern continuation of the Silk Road. The Afghan government is expected to receive 8% of the project's revenue.
Sounds like Afghanistan has some strategic importance after all, if it's got the 21st century version of the Silk Road running right through it. Maybe it would be a good idea for the country to have a stable government and infrastructure, hmmmmmm?
Back to Krauthammer:
Osama bin Laden, the one whose presence in Afghanistan (or some cave on the border) presumably makes it the central front in the war on terror, has been explicit that "the most . . . serious issue today for the whole world is this Third World War that is raging in Iraq." Al-Qaeda's No. 2, Ayman Zawahiri, has declared that Iraq "is now the place for the greatest battle of Islam in this era."
And why do you think that is, Charlie? Because U.S. troops are there, that's why. You and your neocon pals keep babbling about how al Qaeda is now drawn to Situation FUBAR like flies to cow pies. It wasn't that way before 2003. Gee, Charlie why do you think that is?
Also noted is Krauthammer's sniffy use of the word "presumably." As in: "Osama bin Laden, the one whose presence in Afghanistan (or some cave on the border) presumably makes it the central front in the war on terror." That's right, the place where the terrorist mastermind himself leader is hiding isn't that important in the war on terror.
"Gah, the stupid...it burns!"
You can argue about our role in creating this new front and question whether it was worth taking that risk to topple Saddam Hussein. But you cannot reasonably argue that in 2007 Iraq is not the most critical strategic front in the war on terrorism. There's no escaping its centrality.
How nice. Krauthammer acknowledges this nation's role creating in Situation FUBAR amidst all the talking points. He does not, however, make a good case for sticking it out. He does not acknowledge that the presence of US troops might actually exacerbate problems. As the above-linked Kossack puts it:
Krauthammer's Martian might point out that the current chaos in Iraq was widely predicted before the war, and he might ask why our military and political leaders failed to listen to the experts who said that the removal of Saddam could very well unleash sectarian violence and revenge killings against the minority sunnis who had dominated the Shia under Baath party rule. Our Martian might ask why anyone would listen to Richard Perle and Bill Kristol instead of people who actually knew something about the Middle East? And he would certainly be able to see, looking back, that we've made a huge mess of things, and that there is no good solution to the current situation.
It's sort of telling that Krauthammer has to imagine conversations with Martians to make a point. It's not like he has any real-world, Earth-based evidence to back him up, you know.
"I don't care what he says. I've never met this man. In fact, he makes me very, very angry!"