Counter-Insurgency in Afghanistan
I’d like to draw your attention to a new article by Donald Snow, Professor Emeritus at the University of Alabama and authority on foreign policy, international relations, and national security at New Atlanticist on the feasibility of counter-insurgency in Afghanistan. I won’t attempt to dissect Dr. Snow’s article but will only say that his observations jibe quite well with my own.
I would add, however, that an additional complication of the situation in Afghanistan is that not only is the country large but it has indefensible borders and several of its neighbors have a stake in the outcome there. Also, counter-insurgency is a doctrine invented more than a half century ago by the colonial powers to keep their errant colonies under control. While it may have made sense for the European colonialists, it doesn’t make nearly as much sense for us. We don’t own the territories where we’re trying to practice counter-insurgency and we don’t want to own them.
Here are Dr. Snow’s remarks on the relevancy of the Iraq experience to Afghanistan:
The US government likes to draw the analogy between Iraq and Afghanistan: COIN “worked in Iraq” and can be transferred to Afghanistan. Two rejoinders: the war in Iraq is not over, and will not be concluded until after the US leaves and the Iraqis sort things out,possibly violently. It’s not clear we “won.” Second, Afghanistan and Iraq are alike only in the sense of being in the same area of the world. One experience does not imply another.
They’re also alike in that both have large areas which have never been under the control of a central government, a characteristic common to a swath of territory that runs from the Bosporus to the Indus.
Read the whole thing.