New York Times columnist Tom Friedman appeared on Fareed Zakaria's CNN show to discuss the fundamental problems with the US surge in Afghanistan, arguing that the plan does not take into account the broader context of America's problems.
"I think what we need most in America today is nation-building at home, that that's what our country needs, that we aren't who we think we are," Friedman said. "We are a country becoming enfeebled by debt, with a weakening education system, and we need to get our groove back."
However, instead of nation-building at home, Friedman emphasizes that the U.S. plan to weaken the Taliban and build up a decent government is engaging in "nation-building 101 in the most fragmented country in the world," contrary to President Obama's assurance that what we are doing is not nation-building.
"Does the president understand?" Friedman said. "I feel like we're like an unemployed couple who just went out and decided to adopt a special needs baby. You know, I mean, that's really kind of what we're doing. And that's like, whoa, you know. That terrifies me."
Friedman argued that the only way for the plan to work is if it is successful in creating a decent government that the Afghanis will want to fight for, which will then be the true surge.
"We're actually trying to create the conditions for the surge," Friedman said. "If they want to own it, they will fight for it to the death. But it's got to be something that delivers for them that they actually want to own."
Friedman elaborated on Meet the Press that the people of Afghanistan need "to have their own civil war." However, such an awakening is unlikely when the focus is not on the Afghanis.
"We're Americans, we focus on us. I think we're not focusing on the key issue," Friedman said. "If they think we want it more than they do, we are dead, because they will let us want it more than they do, and they will hold our coat from now until the next five or 15 years."
According to Friedman, this turns the issue of a deadline into a non-issue, as success is entirely contingent on the people of Afghanistan.
"When they want it, when they take ownership of it, it works," Friedman said. "And when they don't, we can be there till Christmas 2050."