What Are Afghanistan's Metrics?
Jennifer Rubin says critics of the war in Afghanistan "have an obligation to step forward with a credible alternative for waging that war or with a scenario by which we could avoid a calamity in Pakistan without victory in Afghanistan."
Well, wait. Shouldn't the proponents of nation building in Afghanistan provide evidence that the stability of Pakistan would indeed be in danger should the United States reduce its military footprint? Rubin sites an op-ed in the WSJ from Frederick Kagan arguing that we have to nation build in Afghanistan for the sake of Pakistani stability. But none of what Kagan writes seems to point toward a complete breakdown of Pakistan. Here's what we know:
1. Pakistani territory is home to a sizable Taliban presence which, despite a stepped up insurgency, has been unable to overthrow the government. Indeed, the Pakistani government continues to support the Taliban (at least Afghan elements of the movement) as a hedge.
2. For all of Washington's professed worry about Pakistan, it seems Pakistan is at least equally if not more concerned with India. Shouldn't that count for something in our calculus?
3. When Afghanistan collapsed in the 1990s, as Kagan argues, Pakistan itself didn't collapse from the instability. It stepped in and propped up its favored side. Those ties continue to this day. Why such a thing wouldn't happen again is never really addressed.
Again, what the proponents of nation building in Afghanistan have to address is how building a stable Afghanistan, with all the costs that entails, prevents international jihadists from launching terrorist attacks against the United States. That is the metric for this mission.