Slowly, the anti-war right is gaining momentum. Jason Chaffetz, a freshman Republican congressman from Utah, says it’s time to bring the troops home from Afghanistan.
Good for him.
I see several good reasons for a different policy in Afghanistan.
- You cannot claim to be a fiscal conservative and support expensive and deficit-busting nation-building exercises overseas. Spending and the deficit are our biggest threats right now — they trump every other concern until we get the deficit back to a manageable level.
- Afghanistan is where empires go to die. See: Soviet Union and the mighty British empire.
- Ron Paul makes an excellent argument, which is to look at the Chinese foreign policy, which is based on investing overseas peacefully. The Chinese are winning that battle.
- I can’t see a realistic exit strategy from Afghanistan. How and when do we declare victory and leave?
Let me address another concern up-front: I was a big supporter of the Iraq war. Given the realities of the evidence available in 2003, I think most people were. It was a mistake. Speaking as a fiscal conservative, I should have listened to the few voices on the right warning about the cost. Whether or not it was right morally, it was a mistake fiscally, and I did not realize that until this year.
Hopefully anti-war voices on the left and right can unite to reverse our current course in Afghanistan.
One other point: I still don’t think President Obama bears the majority of the blame for our Middle East adventures. In this particular case, he is dealing with the hand he was dealt by the Bush administration. I wish he would take another course in Afghanistan and announce a new doctrine of non-interference in the Middle East (based on fiscal concerns at the very least), but to lay all the blame at his feet is to ignore reality. Let’s hope he changes course in 2010.