Is Obama’s War in Afghanistan Just?

Michael Walzer makes the case that it is, in Dissent:

THERE is one strong argument for undertaking the effort Obama has called for that he didn’t make and that may be more compelling than the strategic arguments he did make. It’s a moral and political argument about what we owe the Afghan people eight years after we invaded their country.

Things have not gotten better for most Afghans in those years, and for many of them, who live in the battle zones or who endure the rapaciousness of government officials, things have probably gotten much worse. At the same time, however, there have been some gains, in parts of the countryside and in the more secure cities. American and European NGOs have been doing good work in areas like public health, health care, and education. Schools have opened, and teachers have been recruited, for some two million girls. Organizations of many different sorts, including trade unions and women’s groups, have sprung up in a new, largely secular, civil society. A version of democratic politics has emerged, radically incomplete but valuable still. And all the people involved in these different activities would be at risk—at risk for their lives—if the United States simply withdrew. Given everything we did wrong in Afghanistan, the work of these people—democrats, feminists, union activists, and teachers—is a small miracle worth defending against the Taliban resurgence.