It seems to me that what we are trying to do for the Afghans – free them from a repressive and backward regime – the Egyptians did for themselves. Or, at least, are trying to do for themselves. And because they fought for freedom themselves with some of them dying and a lot of them making sacrifices, they have a much better chance of getting it. Because Americans are the ones dying for freedom in Afghanistan, the Afghans have almost no investment. Why should they.
If, in 1776, an 100,000 man French army had come to the Colonies and got rid of the English for us, I think our commitment to democracy would be different. If all we did was wait for the French to win and then they said Here is your country, I doubt we could have made democracy stick.
In Egypt, I read, people are cleaning the streets, Tahrir Square is clean. The Egyptians are taking pride in their country. We had to take control of our country and, I am afraid, the Afghans will have to do the same. We can't do it for them.
A couple of days ago, Michele and I watched the HBO movie, The Battle for Marjeh. We were both taken by the fact that the Americans were doing most of the heavy lifting, the Afghan Army seemed expert at always being where the action wasn't.
People say that Afghanistan is the graveyard of Empires. I don't think that is true. To quote somebody -Tom Ricks, I think – We'll eventually leave Afghanistan to its fate, but it will be because we've finally figured out that the stakes there aren't worth the effort, especially given the low odds of meaningful success. It's just taking us longer to figure that out than it should.
I think the real question is If everything were the same in Afghanistan except we weren't there, would Obama commit 100,000 troops? I doubt it.