What to do with Libya? Part I: We first need to figure out what to do in Afghanistan.

Now I’m going to be the first to admit that Libya is not an area of expertise for me (yes I’m actually admitting I don’t know something), so I will preface this that specifics of the culture or the current situation could change.

But the question remains, what do to with Libya?
Actually this is a two part question, because before we answer what should we do with Libya and its revolution is what can we do? And right now that is just about nothing. Why? Because, we’re in Afghanistan.

Now to be honest I supported the invasion of Afghanistan. I thought it was the right thing to do. This was a country that had been on its way to becoming a western nation in the 1970’s and was first under the oppressive rule of the Soviets and then under the oppressive rule of the Taliban. I thought we owed this to Afghanistan. First because we had abandoned them in the 70’s when Carter did less than nothing to help them fend off the Soviets and then we didn’t help them recover after they drove out the Soviets (remember the last scene’s of Charlie Wilson’s War)?

The problem is that I assumed we had a plan. (I also assumed we also had a plan in Iraq). I had this silly idea that the Pentagon, the CIA, and the State Department all have these thick files full of “What if we invade this country…” that covered everything from the likely invasion of Iraq to highly unlikely invasion of Canada. I thought we had a plan and contingency plans and thought all the way from the first landing to leaving a fully functional democracy behind us. I thought all the money we spend on think tanks was for something. I mean we clearly have outlines with how we developed Germany and Japan and the rest of the Marshall Plan’s success.

Boy was I wrong.
I was left feeling like Bruce Willis in Armageddon being told he’s the best plan they could come up with to save the world: “And this is the best that you can – that the-the government, the *U.S. government* can come up with? I mean, you-you’re NASA for cryin’ out loud, you put a man on the moon, you’re geniuses! You-you’re the guys that think this shit up! I’m sure you got a team of men sitting around somewhere right now just thinking shit up and somebody backing them up! You’re telling me you don’t have a backup plan; that these eight boy scouts right here, that is the world’s hope, that’s what you’re telling me?”

We apparently had really good military plans. We beat both the Taliban and Saddam’s army in record time. But the Bush administration’s plans seem to have read: (1) Beat opposition forces, (2) Democracy magically springs up.

So we really botched in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, while I don’t think Iraq is a complete loss, it’s still nowhere near as stable as it possibly could be. But as much as I think not leaving a permanent presence in Iraq is a mistake, actually going back in right now would be an even bigger one. Which leaves Afghanistan.

So we’re stuck with either two options. (You will notice that Obama’s I don’t really know what I’m doing here plan is not on the list). Either (1) we admit that we’ve really f—ed up so badly that there is nothing we can do at present to fix this situation and leave. On our way out burn every poppy field, carpet bomb every Taliban controlled area, and shoot every politician we know is on the take so that we can give the Afghani people a chance, but other than that leave; or we can (2) redouble our efforts, continue to worry about the military side, but also send a massive amount of workers over to Afghanistan to build a fully functional first world infrastructure and the services needed to maintain that life style. (I’m talking, roads, plumbing, electrical grids, hospitals, schools, public transportation systems, the whole nine yards of first world infrastructure). The first problem to this is where would we get the people needed for such a massive project? This is the easier one to answer—we reassign the entire Peace Corp to Afghanistan and, well, I recall that there were some unemployed people here in America looking for a job. The second problem to this is, of course, money. And I have no idea where would get the money for this. (I am however, open to ending Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare to pay for this as a stable nation would yield far better results for the world in general than paying off the whiners and losers of America). Regrettably I think we have dug ourselves such a hole in Afghanistan right now that option 2 would be throwing good money after bad. If we had started with option 2 right after we went in to Afghanistan it might have taken 10 years for it to work. However, between Bush and Obama, given how much we’ve ruined any good will we might have had in Afghanistan it would take us another 3 decades to do this right. As remiss as I am to say this, we need to offer every woman who wants to leave a ticket to the U.S. for asylum reasons and go with option 1. Maybe if we give them 10 years on their own they can pull themselves out enough that we can go back with only aid and support and help them return the near first world status they had back in the 70’s—but right now we’ve botched this so much it’s next to hopeless.

Now if the entire international community was willing to go in on option 1, it might work. But even for the theoretical nature of my blogs, that seems a bit unlikely.

So if we aren’t busy in Afghanistan, we can actually worry about Libya (and Egypt, and Tunisia, and the Sudan, and, well you get the point)…
…to be continued.

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Filed under Afghanistan, Foreign Policy, Libya, Long Term Thinking

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