Friday, October 17, 2008

Where do we go from here in Afghanistan?

Robert Kaplan's recent Op-Ed in the New York Times asks some trenchant questions about the war in Afghanistan.

[A]fter seven years of war in [Afghanistan], it’s time to ask a very impolite set of questions:

If we did, by chance, capture or kill Osama bin Laden... would Afghanistan still matter?

Would there be public support for sending more American troops to stabilize a country that has rarely in its history enjoyed strong central government and that abuts a tribal area in Pakistan that neither the British nor the Pakistanis have ever been able to control?

Is the war in Afghanistan, deep down, anything more than a manhunt for a handful of individuals?

And if it is, how do we define victory there?...

So, here’s [Kaplan's] answer: In fact, Afghanistan is more than a manhunt, and it does matter, for reasons that have not been fully fleshed out by policy makers or the military. | A Manhunt or a Vital War? - NYT|

Kaplan makes a compelling strategic argument without offering any operation or tatical advice. He does outline the difficulty of the task...

We can only hope that the next President has a better grasp of the role of diplomacy and the limits of military power than Dubya possessed.

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