February 24, 2008


Two Winnable Wars (Anthony H. Cordesman, February 24, 2008, Wasington Post)

The military situations in Iraq and Afghanistan are very different. The United States and its allies are winning virtually every tactical clash in both countries. In Iraq, however, al-Qaeda is clearly losing in every province. It is being reduced to a losing struggle for control of Nineveh and Mosul. There is a very real prospect of coalition forces bringing a reasonable degree of security if decisions such as Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's announcement Friday to extend his militia's cease-fire six months continue over a period of years.

Military victory is far more marginal in Afghanistan. NATO and international troops can still win tactically, but the Taliban is sharply expanding its support areas as well as its political and economic influence and control in Afghanistan. It has scored major gains in Pakistan, which is clearly the more important prize for al-Qaeda and has more Pashtuns than Afghanistan. U.S. commanders privately warn that victory cannot be attained without more troops, without all members of NATO and the International Security Assistance Force fully committing their troops to combat, and without a much stronger and consistent effort by the Pakistani army in both the federally administered tribal areas in western Pakistan and the Baluchi area in the south.

...is nowhere more evident than in the reduction of al Qaeda from an organization with transnationalist dreams to a Pashtun tribal gang.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 24, 2008 4:50 PM
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