In “Time to Get Out of Afghanistan” (Op-Ed, Jan. 2), Robert D. Kaplan refers to the diplomatic expertise of Richard Holbrooke. Mr. Holbrooke famously remarked, after becoming familiar with Afghan affairs, “We may be fighting the wrong enemy in the wrong country.” He recognized that Pakistan was the true enemy.
It was Pakistan that helped create the Taliban in the early 1990s and has supported them ever since. In order to bring peace to Afghanistan, the influence of Pakistan must be terminated. This is particularly urgent because of Pakistan’s position as a leading nuclear power. In 2009 the American ambassador to Pakistan, Anne W. Patterson, noted that enriched uranium being produced in Pakistan might be acquired by terrorists to produce their own bomb. Ten years later, that danger still exists.
Pakistan must be confronted to prevent the Afghan-Pakistan region from becoming a haven for nuclear-armed terrorists.
Edward A. Friedman
The writer teaches courses on nuclear weapons and energy at Stevens Institute of Technology. He represented Stevens in an international development program in Afghanistan from 1965 to 1967 and 1970 to 1973.
To the Editor:
Robert D. Kaplan contradicts himself by describing the horrific situation in Afghanistan as the triumph of “deterministic forces,” and then almost immediately says, “It did not have to be like this.” Well, which is it: Is the fault in our stars or in ourselves?
During the Cold War, foreign policy realists lauded America’s morally indefensible alliances with regimes in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan that fostered Islamic extremism at home and exported it abroad as a necessity in the struggle with Communism, especially during the Soviet-Afghan War.
What we owe to the Afghan people and ourselves is a brave recognition of our own role as protagonists in this drama and a sea change in our policies, not least because walking away from clear and present danger will not make it go away.
The writer is president of the Afghanistan Foreign Press Association.
To the Editor:
Bravo to Robert D. Kaplan for his opinion regarding our military presence in Afghanistan: “Indeed, it may soon be time for the United States to get out of the country altogether.” Having been a Marine officer in the Vietnam era, I was pleased when President Richard M. Nixon began pulling troops out of Vietnam. We had been there for a number of years, and it was clear there was no light at the end of the tunnel. We now face a similar dilemma in Afghanistan.
A close friend of mine was killed in Vietnam on Feb. 22, 1969. What a shame our leaders did not respond to the futility of that war earlier and spare the lives of thousands of troops. Let’s hope that President Trump will keep us out of stupid wars.
As Mr. Kaplan points out, even if a terrorist group finds refuge in Afghanistan and plans a 9/11-scale attack, “Yemen, Somalia and a number of other places could also provide the setting for that.” Don’t lose lives just to save embarrassment.
To the Editor:
Time to get out of Afghanistan? Past time. There are places where we shouldn’t interfere, shouldn’t try to impose our values, shouldn’t think that we can succeed where others have failed, and Afghanistan is one of them.