June 7, 2012

EAT YOUR SOUP:

The Age of Unsatisfying Wars (JOHN A. NAGL, 6/06/12, NY Times)

Mr. Obama should welcome an Iraq-like end to Afghanistan: as contradictory as it may seem, messy and unsatisfying are the hallmarks of success in modern counterinsurgency wars.

America can live, for example, with the current Iraqi government and its policies, and Iraq's increasing oil output will help the global economic recovery. [...]

Like any successful counterinsurgency, Afghanistan is likely to end somewhat unsatisfyingly for Americans, with a corrupt but gradually improving government in Kabul, advisers helping Afghan security forces fight a weakening but still dangerous Taliban, and a schizophrenic Pakistan alternately helping Afghan and Taliban fighters.

It may also, in the odd logic of counterinsurgency, be more likely to succeed if we leave the project somewhat unfinished. T. E. Lawrence, no slouch as an insurgent himself, advised: "Do not try to do too much with your own hands ... It is their war, and you are to help them, not to win it for them."



Posted by at June 7, 2012 5:48 AM
  

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