Saturday, October 17, 2009

Afghanistan Review continued

Max Boot, one of the military experts at the Council on Foreign Relations, has a judicious assessment (although he gives too much credit to the Kagans) of McChrystal's review, the basis for the current policy debate. His critique of Counter-terrorism only is particularly persuasive:

What we have tried is the other strategy, the counterterrorism strategy, and it has been found wanting. This should not come as a surprise, because it is hard to point to any place where pure CT has defeated a determined terrorist or guerrilla group. This is the strategy that Israel has used against Hamas and Hezbollah. The result is that Hamas controls Gaza, and -Hezbollah controls southern Lebanon. It is the strategy that the U.S. has employed in Somalia since our forces pulled out in 1994. The result is that the country is utterly chaotic and lawless, and an Islamic fundamentalist group called the Shabab, which has close links to al-Qaeda, is gaining strength. Most pertinently, it is also the strategy the U.S. has used for years in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The result is that the Taliban control the tribal areas of Pakistan and are extending their influence across large swathes of Afghanistan.
And he cites political scientists, Andrew Enterline and Joseph Magagnoli, who have found that population-centric approaches to counter-insurgency work two-thirds of the time. I do not buy all of Boot's assertions, but it is a very reasoned and reasonable analysis of McChrystal's review and of the situation as it stands now.

1 comment:

Bill Ayres said...

An interesting question no one has asked - what if there is no 'winning' strategy? American policy discussions tend to assume that everything is a puzzle, i.e. has a solution. What if Afghanistan is the problem that has no solution?