Wednesday, December 02, 2009


I believe the law requires me to have an opinion on President Obama's increase in manpower in Afghanistan. So here goes: this is a real missed opportunity on Obama's part. The US will now have 100,000 soldiers in Vietnam -- still less than the USSR used to lose their war, and less than a quarter of what the US used to lose their war in Vietnam.

Except that, to be fair, the obvious parallel isn't either of those examples but instead the recent "success" of the surge in Iraq. But the conditions for that success are not obviously replicable in Afghanistan -- to take just one example, the Taliban are recognized even by the US military for their ability to provide useful state capacity in a way that Al Qaeda in Iraq simply were not. Therefore, one of the key elements of the Iraqi "success" may simply not avail us in Afghanistan.

Of course, I'm a mere blogger, and thus know nothing about these things. Maybe having intelligent people in command of a more thoughtful Army will make the difference. I hope it does.

Nevertheless, the last decade taught me to be deeply skeptical about the merits of grand military plans. Claims that, after losing the war in Afghanistan for 8 years, we can now win it 18 months, are highly dubious to my ears. I believe that by 2012, we'll all be wondering one of two things: a) why are we now committing ourselves to even more years in Central Asia, or b) why didn't we get out years ago?

1 comment:

Jesse said...

I'm wondering exactly those two things, and it's only 2009.