The idea that we need to withdraw from Iraq in order to, among other things, focus more effort on Afghanistan is, among other things, a good political talking points for the anti-war side of the Iraq debate. My sense it that very fact has convinced a lot of people that it’s just a good talking point for the anti-war side of the Iraq debate. In fact, however, it’s totally true. Truer, in fact, than a lot of people realize because the resources being squandered in Iraq include not just our own resources, but the political will of our NATO allies in Afghanistan many of whom are making important contributions there. Robert Farley summarizes Samantha Power on Canada:
It’s in this context that articles like Samantha Power’s recent Time magazine piece are particularly important. Canada has borne a disproportionate share of the fighting in Afghanistan, and has suffered dreadful casualties. Eighty-two Canadians have thus far been killed in Afghanistan, as compared with ninety-five from the much larger UK contingent. The death rate has taken its toll on Canadian public opinion, but one lesson of the Power article is that Iraq continues to poison everything; to the extent that the Afghan operation is conceived of as part of greater US foreign policy, it becomes less popular.
My experience generally has been that most elites in NATO countries appreciate the importance of the mission in Afghanistan, would like to contribute to its success, and are even willing to risk some level of public opprobrium for doing so. But these are democratic countries and people are accountable to their voters, and voters don’t like the idea that Canadian (and British, German, etc.) forces are in Afghanistan in order to hold America’s coat so that we can continue our occupation in Iraq and build a multi-billion dollar hotel and condo complex inside the Green Zone.