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February 10, 2011

Shifting Deck Chairs on the Titanic
Posted by Michael Cohen

I'm a little late in posting this to DA, but I have a new piece up at Foreign Policy making the case that recent signs of military progress in Afghanistan cannot mask the underlying strategic impediments in our current strategy:

Without tangible improvement in creating a capable and effective Afghan security force; without a competent and legitimate central government able to provide good governance to its people; without a choking-off of the supply of arms and fighters from across the border in Pakistan, the tactical gains being made by U.S. troops cannot be sustained and, quite simply, the war in Afghanistan cannot be won.

All the elements of the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan -- political, diplomatic, and military -- must be working if the effort is to be successful, not just the latter. But instead of recognizing these failures and shifting course, there is abiding resistance to any change among policymakers. Proposals to begin the process of political reconciliation with the Taliban are pushed aside because on the ground, after all, the insurgents are back on their heels. So why negotiate?

But this mindset creates a misleading sense of optimism that precludes any serious examination of the current strategy. 

Long overdue in Afghanistan is a sobering recognition by political and military leaders that the current U.S. and NATO strategy is failing, has little chance of success, and must be reformulated immediately. That is the public discussion that needs to be taking place. But none of that will happen so long as the U.S. president and his military commanders ignore the many signs that America is losing the war in Afghanistan -- choosing instead to focus their public rhetoric solely on rosy assessments of military progress.

You can read the whole thing here


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