Dear Mr. President,
You went to Afghanistan! I think secret trips make being President even cooler. I mean, who gets to fly to Afghanistan in the middle of the night just to say 'hey' to Bagram AFB? You do. Because you're the President. I mean, I'm sure there are other perks, but that was, if you'll excuse the phrase, pretty damn stylish.
While I'm glad that President Karzai has made progress toward eliminating some of the corruption that plagues the Afghan government, I don't have much faith in him as a leader. His reelection was carried out under such questionable circumstances, that I certainly would not have much faith in him, were I an Afghan citizen.
What are our goals in Afghanistan? It seems as though our massive investment in the military operation there could be better spent on infrastructure and education. Too much of the Afghan population is kept poor and undereducated because of lingering tribal tensions and the corrupt elitism of the ruling class. We're never going to stamp out the sources of terrorism unless the Afghan people are united in the reward and the responsibility of self-governance.
We seem to make this mistake often in our foreign policy. We arm the party or faction we wish to see in power- from the Shah of Iran, to Fatah in Palestine, we neglect the lessons of our own history time and time again. Instead of providing the tools of war to allow our chosen leaders to rise to power through fear and coercion, we ought to empower them to provide the services and stability that allow people to live and prosper peacefully. Hamas didn't win elections in 2006 because it was better armed than Fatah, it did so because it provided the most reliable and least corrupted social services to the people of Gaza. The Shah's government wasn't overthrown for a lack of weapons, but because the will of the people, the desire for self-determination, was stronger. In Afghanistan, we continue this mistaken belief in the supreme might of military force. The will of the Afghan people, the desire for stability, peace, access to basic services and education will always be more powerful than whatever government we force upon them, no matter how well we arm it. President Karzai must reform his administration and ensure that he is working toward the betterment of all Afghans, or the Afghan people will see that he is replaced-with or without the consent of the American occupation force. Because we have entwined our fate with theirs, we must work to see that the Afghan people are fairly represented and governed and we must do this through investment and support, not through brute force.
Travel safely, Mr. President.