Saturday, July 27, 2013

Too soon to judge success of Afghan war - just wait 60 years

That's the word from Canadian historian David Bercuson, writing yesterday in Canada's newspaper of record.

According to Bercuson, had the West not intervened in the Korean civil war in 1950, all of Korea today would resemble the isolated underdeveloped north.

Furthermore, that proves we should remain optimistic that the loss of life and the hundreds of billions of dollars it cost to lose them in Afghanistan has been money and lives well spent. We really need to give it some time - sixty years seems reasonable to Bercuson, before we make an assessment.

The main problem with fatuous comparisons is that they are fatuous. There is utterly no reason to make any kind of comparison between Korea and Afghanistan other than retroactively justifying the war we've been losing for twelve years.

We aren't leaving an Afghanistan that is divided between a half that is bound to the West and another half with its loyalties in an anti-Western camp. We are leaving behind an Afghanistan in which a tiny and corrupt oligarchy which owes its good fortune to the Invasion of 2001 will miss us, and the rest of the country is happy to see the last of us.

That corrupt elite will for the most part have resettled in Dubai and London and Miami before the last NATO occupiers leave their country.

How does Bercuson know that all of Korea would today resemble North Korea had the West not intervened in 1950?

He doesn't. Neither do you or I.

We can however make some reasonable assumptions if we look at other countries that were in 1950 considered part of the "enemy" in the cold war standoff. What do we see?

We see a world that has been integrated into the global economy even in cases where the governments are still nominally "anti-capitalist."

There is no reason whatsoever to assume that a unified Korea would have been different.

It is far more likely that if the West had never involved itself in the Korean war, that a unified Korea would today resemble the South rather than the North.

Instead, we have for sixty years burdened the North with constant sanctions and economic blockades just to prove the superiority of the South.

While Bercuson stretches matters a good deal when he refers to South Korea as a "bastion of liberal democracy," he is simply making stuff up when he credits the West's interference in 1950 for that accomplishment.

Which is about the only way to put a positive spin on the past twelve years of our gravely misguided interference in Afghanistan.

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