Friday, November 10, 2017

Afghanistan in the Long Shadow of Benghazi

Beginning with Ronald Reagan embraced the Mujahideen in the 1980s as part of his multi-pronged effort to topple the already-teetering Soviet empire, tactics in Afghanistan have been unable to redeem strategies that landed the United States there in the first place.  As many of us suggested at the time -- and were dismissed as not sufficiently rabid against the USSR -- Afghanistan has never been a good place to invade. Obviously.

We are there now, however, in a long occupation. As I write this Veteran's Day, I am saddened by how much has been sacrificed by our (mostly young) men and women in uniform, many of whom I have known, and some of whom never came home.

I am also mindful of those out of uniform -- both Afghan citizens who want a normal life and our own men and women who serve in diplomatic and development roles. According to Tom Bowman's recent reporting, they are essentially confined to barracks.


The current administration came to office in part on the basis of mischaracterizing the terrible events in Benghazi, Libya, in which four U.S. diplomats and eleven (always forgotten) Libyan colleagues were killed. That terrible event was reduced to a couple of soundbites and hashtags as it was used for political purposes, mainly by people who cared not one whit about the work of the diplomats who perished. For of course, it was many of those same people who had failed adequately to fund diplomats in general and diplomatic security in general.
Photo: S.K. Vemmer, U.S. Department of State, from Louisa Bargaron's Keeping America Safe: Development's Role in National Security
Remarkably, diplomats and their colleagues in social and economic development remain committed to the improvement of U.S. relations with Afghanistan and the well-being of its people. They are in the country right now, ready to serve and having at least some good ideas of how to do it.

The administration to which they report, however, is paralyzed by its own rhetorical excesses. Those who stand ready to serve in Afghanistan are thus virtual prisoners of an overly cautious security posture that does not allow them to work freely -- even within the boundaries of secure areas, according to Bowman's reporting.

Aid and diplomacy will not make Afghanistan a safe and prosperous place in the near term -- nothing is going to do that. But hunkering down is not a viable option. The current non-strategy serves nobody well by this -- not the civilians and diplomats, nor the soldiers and marines on whom they rely.

Lagniappe

It is becoming apparent that the marginalization of diplomats in Afghanistan may be only the starkest example of a rapidly-emerging process of hollowing out the U.S. diplomatic corps worldwide. According to recent -- and thorough -- reporting by the Washington Post, Secretary of State Tillerson is pushing hundreds of career diplomats out of their posts, replacing very few of them.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for your comment and your interest in my blog. I will approve your comment as soon as possible. I had to activate comment moderation because of commercial spam; I welcome debate of any ideas I present, but this will not be a platform for dubious commercial messages.

Blog Ideas

coffee (22) geography (16) climate change (15) GEOG381 (12) musica (10) GEOG388 (9) Mexico (8) Texas (8) education (8) Brazil (7) migration (7) GEOG332 (6) Massachusetts (6) US-Mexico (6) borderlands (6) deBlij04 (6) GEOG130 (5) GEOG470 (5) cultural geography (5) fair trade (5) food (5) geographic education (5) immigration (5) nicaragua (5) Arizona (4) Safina (4) climate justice (4) deBlij05 (4) music (4) politics (4) water (4) Bolivia (3) Boston (3) GEOG431 (3) Managua (3) Obama (3) africa (3) border (3) cartography (3) drought (3) libraries (3) pesticides (3) trade (3) unemployment (3) Alaska (2) Amazon (2) Bridgewater (2) Canada (2) Chiapas (2) China (2) Colonialism (2) EarthView (2) Economy (2) Environment (2) Ethiopia (2) GEOG 381 (2) GEOG295 (2) GEOG298 (2) GEOG331 (2) GEOG441 (2) Google Maps (2) Government (2) Hawaii (2) India (2) Lexington (2) Maldives (2) Mozambique (2) NPR (2) National Monuments (2) National Parks (2) Religion (2) Rio Grande (2) Taunton River Wild and Scenic (2) Tex-Mex (2) The View from Lazy Point (2) United States (2) Venezuela (2) anthropocene (2) censorship (2) central america (2) chocolate (2) corn (2) deBlij07 (2) deforestation (2) demographic transition (2) education reform (2) employment (2) environmental geography (2) film (2) global warming (2) islands (2) land protection (2) librarians (2) maps (2) organic (2) peak oil (2) refugees (2) sense of place (2) soccer (2) suburban sprawl (2) television (2) water rights (2) whales (2) #sosnicaragua #nicaragua (1) ACROSS Lexington (1) Accents (1) Adam at Home (1) Alice (1) Alt.Latina (1) American Hustle (1) April (1) Association of american Geographers (1) Audubon (1) Aunt Hatch's Lane (1) BSU (1) Baby Boomers (1) Banda Aceh (1) Bay Circuit Trial (1) Bechtel (1) Beleza Tropical (1) Belize (1) Beloit College (1) Ben Linder Cafe (1) Bet The Farm (1) Bhopal (1) Bikeway (1) Bill Gates (1) Bill Moyers (1) Boeing 777 (1) Brazilian (1) Brazilianization (1) Bridge (1) British Columbia (1) Bus Fare (1) Bush (1) California (1) Cambridge (1) Cape Cod Bay (1) Carl Stafina (1) Catholic (1) Ceuta (1) Chalice (1) Chipko (1) Citgo (1) Climate risks (1) Cochabamba (1) Common Core (1) Commuter (1) Computers (1) Cuba (1) Cups and Summits (1) Dallas (1) David Byrne (1) Deans Beans (1) Delaware Valley (1) Dunkin Donuts (1) EPA (1) Earth Day (1) Earth View (1) Easton (1) Elizabeth Warren (1) Ellicott City (1) Emilia Laime (1) English-only (1) Environmental History (1) Euphrates (1) European Union (1) Evo Morales (1) FIFA (1) Fades Out (1) Farms (1) Food Trade (1) Frederick Kaufman (1) French press (1) Fresh Pond Mall (1) GEOG 171 (1) GEOG 332 (1) GEOG 441 (1) GEOG171 (1) GEOG286 (1) GEOG490 (1) Garden of Gethsemane (1) Gas wells (1) General Motors (1) Gini Coefficient (1) Girl in the Cafe (1) Google (1) Gordon Hempton (1) Gravina Island Bridge (1) Great Molasses Flood (1) Guy Lombardo (1) Hawks (1) Heart (1) Higher Education (1) History (1) Holyhok Lewisville (1) Homogenous (1) How Food Stopped Being Food (1) Hugo Chavez (1) IMF (1) Iditarod (1) Imperial Valley (1) Income Inequality (1) Indonesia (1) Iraq (1) Irish (1) Japan (1) Junot Diaz (1) Ketchikan (1) Key West (1) Kindergarden Students (1) King Corn (1) Kiribati (1) Latin America (1) Limbaugh (1) Louisiana (1) Love Canal (1) Luddite (1) M*A*S*H (1) MCAS (1) MacArthur Genius (1) Maersk (1) Malaysia (1) Malaysian Air Flight 370 (1) Manu Chao (1) Map (1) Marblehead (1) Mary Robinson Foundation (1) Maryland (1) Massachusetts Bay Colony (1) Math (1) Maxguide (1) May (1) Maya (1) Mayan (1) Mayan Gold (1) Mbala (1) McDonald's (1) Melilla (1) Mexicans (1) Michael Pollan (1) Michelle Obama (1) Micronesia (1) Military (1) Military Dictatorship (1) Minuteman Trail (1) Mongolia (1) Monsanto (1) Montana (1) Morocco (1) Mount Auburn Cemetery (1) Muslim (1) Nantucket (1) National Education Regime (1) Native Americans (1) New Bedford (1) New Hampshire (1) New York City (1) New York Times (1) No Child Left Behind Act (1) Norquist (1) North Africa (1) Nuts (1) Oaxaca (1) Occupeligo (1) Occypy (1) Oklahoma City (1) Oppression (1) PARCC (1) Pakistan (1) Pascal's Wager (1) Peanut (1) Pearson Regime (1) Philadelphia (1) Philippines (1) Pink Unicorns (1) Poland (1) Portuguese (1) Protest (1) Public Education (1) Puebla (1) Puritans (1) Quest University (1) Rachel Carson (1) Reading (1) Republican (1) Retro Report (1) Robert Reich (1) Rock Legend (1) Ronald Reagan (1) Rondonia (1) SEXCoffee (1) Safety (1) Samoza (1) Sandino (1) Sara Vowell (1) Save the Children (1) Scotch (1) Scotland (1) Seinfeld (1) Senegal (1) Sergio Mendes (1) Severin (1) Sharrod (1) Silent Spring (1) Sinatra (1) Slope (1) Somalia (1) Sombra (1) Sonora (1) Sonoran desert (1) Sonoran hot dog (1) South America (1) Spain (1) Stairway to Heaven (1) Storm (1) Suare Inch of Silence (1) Sumatra (1) Swamp (1) Tacloban (1) The Amazon (1) The Amazon Trail (1) Tigris (1) Tucson (1) Tufts (1) U.S Federal Reserve (1) U.S Government (1) U.S. economy (1) USDA (1) USLE Formula (1) Uganda (1) Unfamiliar Fishes (1) Union Carbide (1) Vacation (1) Vexillology (1) Vietnam (1) ViralNova (1) WNYC Data News (1) Wall Street (1) Walsenburg (1) Walt Disney (1) Walt and El Grupo (1) Ward's Berry Farm (1) West (1) Whaling (1) Wilson (1) Winter Storm Saturn (1) Wisconsin (1) World Bank (1) Xingu (1) YouTube (1) Zombies (1) agriculture (1) antitrust (1) aspen (1) austerity (1) aviation (1) banned books (1) bark beetle (1) bean (1) bicycle (1) bicycling (1) bike sharing (1) binary (1) biodiversity (1) bioneers (1) books (1) boston globe (1) cacao (1) cafe (1) campaign (1) campus (1) cantonville (1) cape verde (1) capitals (1) carbon dioxide (1) carbon offsets (1) carioca (1) cash (1) cashews (1) census (1) chemex (1) chemistry (1) chronology (1) churrasco (1) coffee grounds (1) coffee hell (1) coffee prices (1) college (1) compost (1) computerized test (1) congress (1) conservation commission (1) corporations (1) countries (1) cubicle (1) dams (1) deBlij06 (1) deBlij08 (1) death (1) deficit (1) demography (1) dictatorship (1) distracted learning (1) distraction (1) drug war (1) dtm (1) earth (1) economic diversification (1) economic geography (1) election (1) embargo (1) energy (1) enhanced greenhouse effect (1) environmentalist (1) ethnomusicology (1) exremism (1) failed states (1) farming (1) financial crisis (1) football (1) forest fire (1) forestry (1) forro (1) fracking (1) free market (1) free trade (1) fuel economy (1) garden (1) genocide (1) geography education (1) geography games (1) geography of chocolate (1) geography of food (1) geologic time (1) geotechnology (1) gerrymandering (1) global pizza (1) globe (1) green chemistry (1) guacamole (1) guatemala (1) high-frutcose (1) home values (1) hospitality (1) hourglass (1) housing (1) illegal aliens (1) income (1) interfaith (1) journalism (1) kitchen garden (1) labor (1) landscape ecology (1) language (1) libertarianism (1) library (1) lingusitics (1) little rock (1) llorona; musica (1) maple syrup (1) mapping (1) masa no mas (1) medical (1) mental maps (1) mi nina (1) microstates (1) mining (1) monopoly (1) municipal government (1) nautical (1) neoclassical economics (1) new england (1) newseum (1) newspapers (1) noise pollution (1) pandas (1) petroleum (1) piracy (1) pirates (1) poison ivy (1) police (1) political geography (1) provincial government (1) proxy variables (1) public diplomacy (1) quesadilla (1) rabbi (1) racism (1) real food cafe (1) remittances (1) resistance (1) respect (1) rigoberta menchu (1) rios montt (1) romance (1) roya (1) runways (1) russia (1) satellites (1) science (1) sea level (1) selva negra (1) sertao (1) sertão (1) sex (1) sex and coffee (1) simple (1) sin (1) smokey (1) solar (1) solar roasting (1) south africa (1) sovereignty (1) species loss (1) sporcle (1) sports (1) state government (1) sustainability (1) taxes (1) tea party (1) teaching (1) textile (1) texting (1) tortilla (1) training (1) transect; Mercator (1) travel (1) triple-deckers (1) tsunami (1) utopia (1) vermont (1) vice (1) video (1) wall (1) water resources (1) water vapor (1) whiskey (1) whisky (1) widget (1) wifi (1) wild fire (1) wildfire (1) wildlife corridor (1) wto (1)