Afghanistan: Defining Victory

Over the weekend, Dave Schuler closed his post “Winning in Afghanistan” with three very good questions:

  • What are our strategic objectives in Afghanistan?
  • What tactics will effect those objectives?
  • What are the logistical requirements of implementing the objectives?

Today in New Atlanticist, my former graduate advisor, Don Snow, gives an extensive response with “Are We Losing in Afghanistan.”    He frames the questions thusly:

The problem in Afghanistan is conceptualization. What is the United States (and the NATO allies) doing there? There are two possible answers. One is that the United States is engaged in a counterinsurgency campaign against the Taliban, who are attempting to overthrow the Karzai government the United States helped put in power and now supports. The other is that the United States is engaged in a counterterrorism campaign, the object of which is the destruction of al Qaeda. The two are by no means the same thing, either as a conceptual objective or as a military problem. In fact, they may even be contradictory goals if pursuing one makes the other worse (which it may well be doing).

He fleshes out the answers in some detail at the link.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.