Friday, October 9, 2009

No Good War

Earlier this week, there was a small demonstration here in DC. That's not even vaguely unusual. There's always a small demonstration here in DC. The event was in front of the White House, and was a group of progressive organizations gathering to protest the war in Afghanistan.

Opposition to the war in Afghanistan is now the majority position among progressives in the United States. A recent poll by the Pew Research Center showed that 56% of Democrats favor removing US/NATO forces from the region as soon as possible.

I dislike war. I dislike it intensely. It is among the most broken of human institutions, and is in almost every way antithetical to the core virtues of Christian faith. It is never, ever, ever a good thing, any more than an amputation is a good thing. But here I part ways with the majority of my progressive brethren and sistren. The conflict in Afghanistan is not one we can walk away from.

Both the Taliban and the al-Qaeda cells that they so willingly incubated are the mortal enemies of pluralist democracy and progressive values. The systematic terrorizing of the Afghan people prior to 2001 was monstrous, and there is no reason to believe that our withdrawal would result in anything other than that for Afghanis.

Permitting Afghanistan to return to it's pre-2001 state would also be a catastrophic strategic error, as egregious a mistake as our misbegotten war in Iraq. Yes, many Americans are tired of war. Our sense of national purpose following the 9/11 attacks was utterly squandered. But we can't delude ourselves into thinking that the Taliban pose no strategic threat to the United States or our allies. Sure, they themselves do not. They have no capacity for military operations on a global scale. But the safe haven they provided for Bin Laden cannot be permitted to re-emerge.

The conflict in Afghanistan isn't a good war. No war is good. But some wars are necessary.