Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What're we doing in Afghanistan?

Two excellent posts today, by Andrew Exum and Spencer Ackerman. Two of the best overviews of the situation I've seen in a long time. The upshot is that our current strategy is the most likely strategy to succeed in accomplishing our strategic goals, namely reducing or eliminating the threat to the US posed by Al Qaeda and the Taliban. That's not to say that it is definitely the right strategy from a cost-benefit perspective. (Remember, as far as the public and most of our government is concerned, wars are free.) But this strategy of a surge and drawdown, focusing on population-centric counterinsurgency and training of the Afghan army and national police, is the one with the best chance of working.

I remain a pessimist about this strategy actually working, for the same reasons as before: Hamid Karzai's government is not a workable partner for a counterinsurgency strategy. But Petraeus says we're ahead of schedule on training the Afghan army (a miracle, considering how much of the population is illiterate), so maybe my pessimism is unwarranted. We'll see in July 2011. In the meantime, read both pieces. Seriously.

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