Sarah Chayes has written what may be one of the most dastardly op-eds I have ever read. She warns against providing aid to Afghanistan too quickly because that would reduce Western “leverage” over the Taliban:
Western countries should not move too fast. Just because we’ve failed to use our leverage in the past doesn’t mean we shouldn’t start now.
One way of thinking about the fraught matter of placing conditions on humanitarian assistance is to consider any offer to provide it as the equivalent of a treaty with a hostile foreign power. The nuclear deals with the USSR and Iran included not only conditions, but intrusive verification procedures. That’s the model that should be applied here.
Putting conditions on humanitarian assistance is always the wrong thing to do. In the case of Afghanistan, holding back resources that millions of Afghans need to survive the winter is monstrous and indefensible. It is not the fault of tens of millions of innocent Afghans that the Taliban won, and they should not be punished for the fact that the U.S. and its client did not prevail. Afghanistan faces a man-made famine if Afghanistan’s reserves are not unfrozen and aid does not resume, and this op-ed is the sort of twisted argument that lays the groundwork for causing such a famine.
Daniel Larison is a weekly columnist for Antiwar.com and maintains his own site at Eunomia. He is former senior editor at The American Conservative. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.