I confess, I find it hard to come to Afghanistan and not ask: Why are we here? Who cares about the Taliban? Al Qaeda is gone. And if its leaders come back, well, that’s why God created cruise missiles.And then Friedman writes, “But every time I start writing that column, something stills my hand.”
What stills Friedman’s hand? Does he recognize the folly of ignoring the Taliban? Does he realize that on-going instability in Afghanistan stokes instability in Pakistan? Does he describe the peril inherent in proliferating failed states? Does he recall America’s experience with the limitations of cruise missiles?
No. What stills Friedman’s hand is the opening of a new girls’ school in a remote Afghan village. Doubtlessly, such schools are valuable – both from a humanitarian perspective and from a strategic perspective, which Friedman identifies. But, that Friedman could begin today’s column as he does, requires either a willful disregard of history or a rather complete failing of critical thought.