17 Aug 2009 @ 1:35 PM 

Strategic Interest


This week, Abu Muqawama is asking if, in 600 words or less, involvement in Afghanistan and Pakistan is in America’s (and her partners’) strategic interests. Well, that depends on whether you believe in World 2.0 or not. By that I mean not some bizarre New World Order. By that I mean that the world is no longer a place that is compartmentalized and insulated. 9/11 was a symptom, not the disease. The disease is that failed or failing states can, will and do have a profound impact on the rest of the world.

If you live in a neighborhood and your next door neighbor, only a few yards away, has major problems with drugs and unruly children, how will that affect you? He has a violent brother-in-law living in a Winnebago in the driveway. Their house and yard will likely be unsightly, which will affect your property values. You will occasionally have trash blown into your yard. Eventually, when they get rats in their garage, you will get them, too. You will be affected, though they do not have the keys to your house.

What if you live a block away? Perhaps your yard will not be messy due to the neighbor a block away. Will your children be affected by their interactions with the unruly children? What about when the rats breed really well… is there a possibility that some may find their way into your house? The violent brother-in-law keeps a guest in his Winnebago who has taken a strong dislike to you and has attacked you, breaking your nose and destroying your mailbox by smashing a car into it. He vows to burn down your house. You and your friends go over to confront him, but he has left a note saying, “I’m gonna get you, sucka,” and fled. You suspect he is still hiding in the neighborhood. He and his friends still leave you threatening voice mails.

Whoops… now their neighbor is partying with them, too. Taking the same drugs. He owns weapons and explosives. Explosives that can knock down the house of his other neighbor, with whom he does not get along. They constantly bicker about which one of them owns a large tree they both covet. It’s not in your interest for these neighbors to get some help though, is it? When the one blows up the other, will that not affect your house as well? In World 2.0, the world is a neighborhood. No longer are we separated by economies that are completely unaffected by the failed families states of the world. No longer do the disaffected and violent of Asia remain only a Central Asian problem. We cannot hide from the world any more than our auto manufacturers can wish Honda, Toyota and Hyundai away.

I know it’s a simplistic analogy. Sure, it’s flawed. If you do not buy into the fact that the world is getting smaller, that we are more a global ecosystem and society than just some global warming debate, then the chances are that you will not see any strategic interest here. If you do believe that we live in a global society, then what affects some strongly affects all to some extent. Can we ever really have security in our own home if our neighbor is unstable, violent, drug-addicted and generally out of control? Can we sleep easily when that neighbor blames us for all or some of his problems?

Now, if there is nothing to my analogy, and you don’t buy into it at all, then the answer is likely, “No, it’s not entirely in our strategic interest.” You will likely subscribe to Bacevich’s “Blood and Treasure” equation. But, even with a flawed analogy, what if there is something to what I’m saying? What if the events in little valleys in Afghanistan can send ripples around the entire planet?

Is that not what happened on 9/11?

Tags Tags: ,
Categories: Afghanistan, AfPak
Posted By: Old Blue
Last Edit: 17 Aug 2009 @ 01 35 PM


Responses to this post » (7 Total)

  1. coffeypot says:

    I think that the ‘Isolationist’ mentality that some Americans had just before WWII is just that, history. The world is a smaller place and everything that happens in one part of the world does affect the rest of us. The religious aspect alone has countries united or torn like no other element. Put in the small fact that they hate our collective asses and want to kill us, yes, what ever happens in Afghanistan and Pakistan definitely is in America’s best interest to be and stay involved. We couldn’t walk away even if we wanted too. They would come after us with a vengeance.

    Some people want world peace. As long as there are Christians, Jews, Moslems and other religions headed by people wanting power and world dominance and are backed and supported by cowardly bullies and bushwhackers, there will NEVER be a peace.

  2. Gary says:

    Sounds like we are talking domino theory here

  3. David M says:

    The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 08/18/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

  4. Caitlin says:

    Succinctly and vividly put, Old Blue. Globalization means physical distance and physical barriers (oceans, mountains) aren’t the protection they used to be. Someone with a blog and a unique message can reach thousands and lead hundreds to act – and there is no requirement that that someone has to be American or pro-American.

    Your analogy makes me think especially of Russia, and their issues with keeping track of conventional as well as nuclear weapons.

    Likewise Afghanistan’s opium crop – if Afghanistan had a stable government (or governments – no need for a central government if you’ve at least got decent provincial governing arrangements), heroin would be a lot more expensive, and there would be fewer drug addicts.

    Keep up the great commentary, Old Blue. I’m bookmarking this post to send to people who don’t get why the US is still fighting for Afghanistan.

  5. membrain says:

    This war really has it’s roots in the defeat of the Ottoman Empire during WWI. It tested American strength and stamina with the bombing of the American Embassy in Lebanon April 13, 1983. That shook American will. Lebanese president Amine Gemayel pleaded with president Ronald Reagan to redouble coalition troop deployment to quell the Lebanese Civil War. Congressional committees debated this, most leaning to bring the troops back home.

    On October 23, 1983 the bombing of the Marine Barracks by Hezbollah, the deadliest single attack on Americans overseas since World War II, finally caused the retreat of American and Coalition forces.

    That gave the enemy the wrong idea. You can connect the dots from that misconception on the part of the enemy through to the events of September 11, 2001.

    How soon some forget. Of course it’s in the coalition’s strategic interests to stay and fight.

    That, or get ready to have your kids bow down to Allah five times a day.

  6. Old Blue says:

    I am working with a man here who was one of the very few survivors from the Beirut bombing. You should hear his briefing on the whole thing. One man out of so many… and he’s still out here, as a civilian now… still trying, still doing what he can.

    Sometimes I rail at the small things that small people say, because I have walked in the company of giants.

  7. Terri LPN says:

    Thanks Old Blue for Your Posts and Updates! Educational for Me! I have
    a very Small Town, Naive, Sense of the World Outside! A Care Giving Attitude! Though the Events of 9/11, Did Wake Me Up and Shake Me Up! I am Praying For all who are involved in this War on Terror Our Soldiers! For Keeping America Free! God Bless and Prayers to You Too! Be Safe!

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