Let me start with the bottom line and then tell you how I got there: I can’t agree with the US President, Mr Barack Obama’s decision to escalate in Afghanistan. I’d prefer a minimalist approach, working with tribal leaders the way we did to overthrow the Taliban regime in the first place. Given our need for nation-building at home right now, I am ready to live with a little less security and a little-less-perfect Afghanistan.
I recognise that there are legitimate arguments on the other side. At a lunch on Tuesday for opinion writers, the President lucidly argued that opting for a surge now to help Afghans rebuild their Army and state into something decent — to win the allegiance of the Afghan people — offered the only hope of creating an “inflection point”, a game changer, to bring long-term stability to that region. May it be so. What makes me wary about this plan is how many moving parts there are — Afghans, Pakistanis and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies all have to behave forever differently for this to work.
But here is the broader context in which I assess all this: My own foreign policy thinking since 9/11 has been based on four pillars:
l The Warren Buffett principle: Everything I’ve ever gotten in life is largely due to the fact that I was born in this country, America, at this time with these opportunities for its citizens. It is the primary obligation of our generation to turn over a similar America to our kids.