Feature

America’s crafty little exit strategy.

The week's news at a glance.

United Kingdom

Simon JenkinsThe Guardian

“The Pentagon must be laughing fit to bust,” said Simon Jenkins in the London Guardian. Everyone mistakenly assumed Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld must have changed his mind on nation-building. After all, his country initiated two wars in basket-case countries, and the only way out of either Afghanistan or Iraq is to build local institutions that can maintain order. Only it turns out there’s another exit strategy: “Find some stooge ally to throw up a smoke screen and get out.” In Afghanistan, Britain is that stooge. The U.S. is drawing down. And we’re sending 4,800 troops on a supposed peacekeeping mission “to wipe out the world’s most lucrative opium trade and bring democracy, stability, and protection to southern Afghanistan.” The wrinkle is that southern Afghanistan is the very area where the Taliban is resurgent. If our boys get stuck in a renewed hot war there, too bad for them. “NATO and Britain have been suckered to the miserable task of covering America’s retreat.” And the same thing could easily happen in Iraq. It’s not fair to blame the Pentagon only—our own Ministry of Defense is the willing partner. “The default mode of American foreign policy is isolation and of British policy continued intervention.” That makes Britain the perfect “fall guy.”

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