Glass Half Full
Fareed Zakaria looks on the bright side in Afghanistan.
It is worth reminding ourselves that Afghanistan is not in free fall. The number of civilian deaths, while grim, is less than a tenth the number in Iraq in 2006. In the recent Afghan election, all four presidential candidates publicly endorsed the U.S. presence there. Compare this with Iraq, where politicians engaged in ritual denunciations of the United States constantly to satisfy the public's anti-Americanism.
My understanding is that the relative absence of anti-Americanism really is a huge difference between Iraq and Afghanistan. The reason Afghans like the United States is that they don't like the Taliban, and they don't like the Taliban because music and beer and television and bare ankles turn out to be popular. That doesn't mean there's no scenario in which a resurgent Taliban gets a foothold in this or that province, but it's difficult to see them retaking the country, just as it's difficult to imagine us fully pacifying and uniting the fractious land. That points, at least in my mind, to the opportunity for a more limited mission in the area.
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