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What is Our Afghanistan Strategy? A Reply to Diana West


It is a question that sadly bears asking. In the midst of the complete debacle that is Obama’s domestic policy, it is easy to forget what a soup sandwich his foreign policy is as well. Afghanistan was Obama’s rallying cry on the stump. He was going in with a sword and a backpack full of bibles to put bin Laden’s head on a pike. It was not very believable, more of a fig leaf for the weakness of his lead role in the Cut & Run chorus.

Our strategy in Afghanistan hasn’t changed since Obama fired McKiernan and we installed Counterinsurgency lite (COIN-l) which isn’t really a strategy as much as an attempt to do COIN without enough troops. Obama added more troops which gave us cover to call it a surge and we have been working an oil spot type of COIN since then. Here at Big Peace, Diana West has been having considerable issues with this strategy and has been using anecdotal instances of US casualties to paint the cause as already lost and COIN, lite or otherwise, as failed and responsible for these casualties.

Well I disconcur. The real question is whether or not we should be in Afghanistan at all. I think it’s safe to say that on that count Diana votes no. I am not arguing the efficacy of being in Afghanistan right now, simply the efficacy of COIN as the only strategy that could lead to victory, or maybe a peace we don’t hate.

I think it is important to note that the COIN tactics and strategy that we employ in Afghanistan are refined versions of those we successfully used in Iraq and lo and behold, it’s the same guy in command. Most of the arguments made about exposing our troops to greater danger and rogue elements in the local security forces were made and in the end over come.

There are many ways to look at Afghanistan that don’t involve us trying to build anything. It is a fair comment to note that “Rubble doesn’t make trouble”. But somehow I don’t think we have the stomach for annual Ramadan bombings in the Pashtun areas. If we want a marginally-pacified AfPak region then COIN is the right answer. If not then we should pack now and get the Hell out of there. In the Crosshairs video about COIN and the ROE.

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