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?