NATO Repeating Russia’s Mistakes in Afghanistan?

The twentieth anniversary of Russia’s withdrawal from Afghanistan is bringing natural comparisons with the NATO mission now in its eighth year.  The comparisons are well taken, as Western confidence in the efficacy of military forces to affect massive changes in a primitive society could use tempering.

Much more in my New Atlanticist piece, “NATO Afghanistan Mission Risks Repeating Russia’s Mistakes.”

FILED UNDER: Afghanistan War, National Security, World Politics, , ,
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.

Comments

  1. Jim Henley says:

    Remember 2002, when hawks kept citing America’s spectacular, lightning success in Afghanistan as a counter-argument to people who worried about getting bogged down in Iraq? Good times.

  2. James Joyner says:

    Remember 2002, when hawks kept citing America’s spectacular, lightning success in Afghanistan

    The problem is the mission and therefore the definition of success. The American military was spectacularly successful at ousting the Taliban and changing the regime, which was the stated goal. Once we shifted to the absurd fantasy of turning Afghanistan into a thriving democracy, we forordained failure.

    Come to think of it, we did the same thing in Iraq.

  3. kb says:

    “The problem is the mission and therefore the definition of success. The American military was spectacularly successful at ousting the Taliban and changing the regime”

    Which was equally true of the UK’s invasion in 1839.

    They easily overthrew the government in kabul and put their own man in charge.

    keeping him there of course was rather more of a problem…

    Although the 1879 invasion was more succesful in that regard.

  4. anjin-san says:

    Once we Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and their neocon supporters shifted to the absurd fantasy of turning Afghanistan into a thriving democracy,

    Perhaps we should put the blame where it belongs…

  5. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Once again the Anjin demonstrates the infant like wisdom of the left. To not try to transform Afghanistan is to leave in in the tender hands of the Taliban. You know, Anjin, the same Taliban that blew up the giant Statues, prevented females from getting education and allowed al Qaeda to formulate the plans that caused 9/11. I know in your very finite wisdom you believe this was all George W. Bushs fault. I just wonder whether you were stupid before you got BDS or were you infected with it because of that fact.

  6. anjin-san says:

    Once again the Anjin demonstrates the infant like wisdom of the left.

    So you are saying James is a member of the left with full blown BDS? Because I am simply agreeing with him while trying to more accurately assess the blame for our unrealistic policy in Afghanistan.

    Something you need to realize III is that our power is finite. We cannot recreate cultures that our thousands of years old in an image more pleasing to us simply because we wish to.

  7. man_in_tx says:

    So you are saying James is a member of the left with full blown BDS? Because I am simply agreeing with him while trying to more accurately assess the blame for our unrealistic policy in Afghanistan

    James is not exactly a hard right-winger when it comes to Iraq and Afghanistan. His views on both these conflicts, may I suggest, would be far more welcome at an Obama White House than at a Bush White House.

    This is not to take away from the fact that James is an Army vet and a combat vet. (Sincere kudos there.)

    He raises a good point: My son is in the Army and he was WELL trained prior to deploying to Afghanistan on avoiding the mistakes of the Soviets. Unfortunately, the war in Afghnanistan is largely determined by the terrain, and the best training in the world cannot change that!

    Nonetheless, I would suggest that the US Army and Marines are far better trained to avoid repeating the Soviets’ (very understandable) mistakes in Afgha. However, the Euros probably have NO CLUE!