Posted by: cousindampier | 22 September 2009

Thoughts on Afghanistan

To sort-of quote David Petraeus, how does this end? We provide more troops. If we are extremely lucky, able to adapt quickly, and low in out expectations, we will be able to provide a period of sustained security. However, much like in Iraq, what if the Afghan government does not use the time?

One of the issues of any nation-building attempt is the legitimate use of force. The legitimate force comes from an outside vendor, in this case allied with the Afghan government. In Iraq, until the government warmed to (but never entirely bought) the idea of the Sunni militias being on their payroll – so there was a security force seen as legitimate when it stayed and protected the cities, towns, and villages, but a government viewed with suspicion and distrust.

All of this leads back to the question of when to transfer power over. States are, often, members of the status-quo. Things are cushy at times, recognized at worst, and there is little impetus to change when there is no pressure by those whom the State shares a social contract with.

This also is the problem with laying the strategy out for Iraq and Afghanistan in a clear form. The American strategy is at its heart not about America, because it seeks to either build a nation-state, or establish the security for the nation-state to build itself, and that’s the problem – the strategy for withdraw is tied to the governments of Afghanistan and Iraq, who often seem stuck in a bog.

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