Genius, said de Gaulle, recalling Bismarck's decision to halt German forcesAnd what would Will have us leave in our wake? He does not say. Abandoning Afghanistan as it stands would do nothing for Allen’s valor nor for the valor of the 1352 American and NATO forces killed in Afghanistan since our invasion nearly eight years ago.
short of Paris in 1870, sometimes consists of knowing when to stop. Genius is
not required to recognize that in Afghanistan, when means now, before more
American valor, such as Allen's, is squandered.
The fact is, Afghanistan is a hash. The best opportunity the United States and NATO had for transforming that failed-state came in the immediate aftermath of the invasion. But instead of deploying the necessary troops, technicians, and funds to rebuild and reconstitute a functioning Afghan state, the Bush administration balked, distracted by a head-long drive to war with Iraq and fool hardy notions of transformed conflict.
Now, in the wake of at best irregular elections, the West is fighting from a position of weakness. We have managed to aggravate the famed Pashtu mistrust of outsiders by propping up a corrupt and ineffectual government. Our mismanagement of Afghanistan is grotesque: we’ve lost control of our (corrupt) man in Kabul; our meager deployment of resources under the Bush administration has convinced the populace that the Taliban are a better bet because they’re not going anywhere; and our reliance on artillery, air strikes, drones, and a ham-handed anti-narcotic campaign has driven rural Afghans into the Taliban’s ranks.
All is not lost, though. The Obama administration is clearly focused on Afghanistan. In marked contrast to the previous administration, President Obama appears not to be driven by ideological notions of victory without application of sufficient resources. And, as bloody as August was and 2009 has been, Afghanistan pales in comparison to Iraq at its bloodiest.
The Obama administration would do well to listen to Anthony Cordesman – the key in Afghanistan is, as it has always been, as it always is with counterinsurgency, to deploy not only sufficient troops to establish and maintain security, but to deploy enough civilians to rebuild the country and undercut the insurgents.