Let us say that, for the sake of argument, the recent Afghan marital rape law demonstrates that Afghanistan is not worth any further expenditure of Western blood or treasure. What, then, do we hope to achieve by going home? Will a moderate government take root after the inevitable civil war? Or will the Taliban surge out of their Pakistani sanctuaries and retake their former homeland?
And would the Taliban remember our forebearance and decline to assault us in the future, or would they, in the fullness of time, find some other way to assault Western cities? Should they be successful in taking the reins in Pakistan, that assault would likely come via nuclear fire.
We may well go home before the job is done, but we would at the same time be hastening the day when Canadian civilians pay for our premature exit in blood.
Let’s say then, that the West threatens nuclear reprisal for any mass attacks on its citizens. Would this not spur Muslim nations to develop and accelerate nuclear programs of their own? And, frankly, do we not have much more to lose, as a technologically advanced civilisation dependent on our labour-saving automation for survival? Would turning all of Afghanistan into glass be any real compensation for losing New York, London, Bombay or even much-reviled Toronto? Cities are the crown jewels of civilisation, the engines that have allowed us the specialisation and concentration of effort to advance as far and as fast as we have. I would rather not lose the best and most successful of them. Nor their priceless treasures of history, either.
I do not see much of an alternative to a long, hard slog that will span several decades. The alternative is to hasten a much more bloody and costly future.