President Evo Morales acted on a longtime threat Wednesday and expelled the U.S. Agency for International Development for allegedly seeking to undermine Bolivia’s leftist government, and he harangued Washington’s top diplomat for calling the Western Hemisphere his country’s “backyard.”
I was going to comment on this. But I’ve been asked to do so on NPR affiliate WBEZ’s Worldview tomorrow. So I’m going to hold off until after that. Plus, I want to get my thoughts together on this.
The political debate in London reveals how immensely difficult—intellectually, morally, and politically—it was for Peel and his colleagues to withdraw [from Afghanistan]. They had to tackle the dense thicket of expert opinions on regional security, which had grown up to justify the intervention. They were forced to challenge parts of the military establishment and contradict the generals (many of whom continued to insist that all that was needed was a clearer mission, more resources, and more troops). They took the risk that withdrawal would leave Afghanistan in civil war, and that they would be accused of shirking their moral responsibility to improve conditions there. They accepted the humiliation of seeing their enemy, who they had invaded to topple, take back control. They ignored the media screams about cowardice and national disgrace. They faced down the fears about national security and loss of credibility. And by doing so, they avoided being trapped by the guilt, paranoia, and irrational momentum of war.
Rory Stewart, from his review of Diana Preston’s book The Dark Defile: Britain’s Catastrophic Invasion of Afghanistan, 1838-1842.
—As US combat casualties pass the 2000 mark in America’s longest war, some perspective from 1842.
They [the British] needed to win the support of the population if they were to defeat the insurgency and build a legitimate state; but the population would not support a weak, corrupt state in the middle of an insurgency. To reassure the nationalists, the foreign force had to convince them they were leaving; and to reassure the supporters of the British, the foreign force had to convince them they were staying. Such political problems could not be solved with more troops. They were all (to use a British policymaker’s phrase) “the inevitable consequence of our position in Afghanistan.”
Rory Stewart, in his review of Diana Preston’s book, The Dark Defile: Britain’s Catastrophic Invasion of Afghanistan, 1838–1842, about the British invasion and failed occupation of Afghanistan. In 1838-42.