Fareed Zakaria hurled sharp criticism against the war effort on his show recently: “It feels disproportionate.”
Among other things, he went through an exhaustive explanation of how much money and how many lives we are wasting on a war in a country with possibly 100 members of Al-Qaeda left. It is a little insulting to people who can do basic algebra (100/100=1 duh). But he makes his point.
The obvious retort is that we are really fighting the Taliban, which would otherwise make Afghanistan a safe place for more than 100 members of Al Qaeda, but that is such a disingenuous argument, I feel. Fareed makes a point that we just don’t wage major wars against allies of enemies simply because they are allies. I know that terrorists are non-state actors so the analogy isn’t perfect, but let’s get real: this is a nation building operation. It isn’t being sold that way to the American people, but it is.
Conservative Americans want the war, but can’t really reconcile borrowing from the Wilsonian playbook. Liberals are against the war, but are the ideological acolytes of Wilson. We have everything screwed up and so there’s this implicit agreement between the pols and the people to play hush-hush and just pretend that this is still about 9/11 and Al-Qaeda. This is why it “feels disproportionate,” because Al Qaeda accounts for the smallest fraction for our reason for being there. What’s sad is that with the policy debate broken down into these strange camps, the debate we should be having (whether nation building is a worthwhile adventure or not) is either completely ignored, or talked around in the least productive way possible.
So while Fareed was more or less stating the obvious, it was a bold – and refreshing – statement in this political climate.