- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Your editorial “What about Afghanistan?” (Monday) prudently advises the new administration to consider carefully before shifting our national security focus from Iraq to Afghanistan and elsewhere in the Islamic world. Good advice.

The grinding poverty in so much of that world is a direct result of its failed reliance on tribalism and the Koran as the only source of solutions to mankind’s problems. In too many places, efforts to overcome ignorance (to educate) must be filtered through the lens of the local religious “leader.” Thus, in those lands, Islam is as much a political and social ideology as it is a religion.

To gain acceptance in such a world, “change” must address that failed ideology. The way to fight an idea is with a better one. The superior idea that the United States (the West) has to offer is liberty and democracy. Our success in Iraq must be measured by whether it can assume its proper role as a beacon to light the darkness of so much of the Muslim world. If the fruits of liberty and democracy such as guarantees of basic human rights don’t enlighten the Muslim world, then we (the West) will have no options other than to accommodate our own society to the darker nature of Islam or to resist it through force of arms.

Finally, Afghanistan is landlocked. It lacks modern roads and rail lines. There is no gas or diesel fuel, and potable water is scarce. Nearly everything that American forces depend upon comes by ship to southern Pakistan and then hundreds of miles to Afghanistan. Only the most critical 5 percent of military supplies can be delivered by aircraft. With an unstable Pakistan, our supply line could be easily shut off. This makes it truly foolhardy to make Afghanistan our focus. Jihadists from all over the Muslim world descended on the Russians in the 1980s and the same would likely happen again. Logistical constraints limit the size of the forces that can be supported in Afghanistan and the risks of wider war spilling over into neighboring Pakistan are simply too great. This is where reality meets “change.”


Air Force (ret.)




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