I don’t have a strong view on what to do in Afghanistan. Losing seems like a lousy option. But even accepting for the purposes of argument that it’s a “war of necessity,” necessity does not imply feasibility. If the Karzai regime can’t put on a credible show of governing, will putting more boots on the ground do anything but stir up nationalistic resentment? We seem to be committed to a counterinsurgency campaign on behalf of a government that can’t govern. I’ve seen this movie before, and I didn’t like the way it ended.
The figure that keeps bugging me is that our annual expenditure in Afghanistan is several times the Afghan GDP. If I were in charge, I’d be thinking very hard about the mechanics of handing out enough cash – the way I figure it, something like $4b/yr. – to abolish poverty in every part of Afghanistan not under Taliban control.