Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Once More Unto the Breach

The President's new Afghanistan strategy has been announced. The details are known. Send another 30,000 troops there at breakneck speed, try to turn Afghanistan around, then begin the transition back to Afghan forces leading the war effort in 18 months. Republicans mostly are happy, but some criticize the end-date and others (like George Will) want to leave now - they want, in other words, to do the very "cut and run" that was so derided in Iraq.

Is this going to work? I don't know. Here's the good part. The good part is that we are establishing limits to our involvement in Afghanistan. No open-ended commitment. The whole idea of having an exit strategy is to be sensible. Everyone knows that there is no such thing as an open-ended commitment by the any major power to fight a foreign war like this. Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan (USSR) etc - we know the rules. So does the Taliban. In other words, we are finally learning what guerrillas and insurgents have known all along: wait long enough and the foreign power (the USA here) will leave. That is a known fact. Pretending otherwise deceives only ourselves, not our enemies.

So we need to have a strategy that can work within a limited period of time. Let me ask a larger question: given that no open-ended commitment is ever really possible, is there another military strategy we could realistically embrace other than trying to put Afghani forces in a position to secure their own state against rebels? Is there, at the end of the day, any counterinsurgency strategy other than forming a new workable political arrangement that commands sufficient resources to defend itself without foreign intervention?

The good news is that, unlike Vietnam, we are not supporting a very unpopular puppet government against a popular nationalist guerrilla movement. Karzai probably would have won the runoff. Certainly, he has wide backing among important groups in the country. And the opposition is not pro-Taliban either. So the political arrangement can arranged as planned, by bringing in more elements to the existing governemnt. And Afghan forces are willing to support their own government. The key to securing Iraq was buying off - literally - the Sunni insurgents. We can do much of the same in Afghanistan.


Raised By Republicans said...

Like Iraq, much of the problem in Afghanistan is that the various factions that we consider to be more or less reasonable/tolerable aren't making the deals with each other that they need to make to govern the country effectively. So long as the US military is providing them with a kind of incubator, they have little incentive to make any compromises with each other. As soon as our departure looms on the horizon, they will start accommodating each other. If they don't they'll be eaten alive by some really nasty insurgent groups.

Dr. Strangelove said...

I liked the speech. Reluctantly I must admit that, at least politically speaking, Obama could not withdraw US forces from Afghanistan until he gave it all one last big try. Announcing the exit date is, in my view, a very smart move. I think the political factions will start making the deals RbR indicates are necessary because it is now clear that the game is on: there will be much jockeying for position as 2011 nears.