After the media firestorm ignited by Gen. Stanley McChrystal and his staff criticizing officials in the Obama administration, it’s high time that Americans get back to the basics about Afghanistan.
Basic #1) Afghanistan does not constitute a vital interest to the United States.
Don’t believe the hype about Afghanistan being critical to America’s security. Al Qaeda poses a manageable security problem, not an existential threat. And whatever economic value the region holds, Stephen Walt, citing Jack Synder’s Myths of Empire, does a great job disputing the contention that Afghanistan is a strategic asset because it is brimming with natural resources.
Basic #2) We Don’t Need to Remain in Afghanistan to Protect Pakistan.
It is commonly held by the foreign policy elites that if Washington abandoned Afghanistan to its fate, emboldened jihadist groups could spill into neighboring Pakistan, fatally weaken its government, and seize its nuclear weapons.
This thinking is misguided.