Sunday, February 4, 2018

Commentary on Afghanistan

Peace Talks

Peace Talks? No Progress. Thomas Ruttig and Obaid Ali of the Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN) provides an update on the lack of progress in government / Taliban peace talks. Read "Words, No Deeds: 2017, another lost year for peace (talks) in Afghanistan", January 24, 2018.


Pakistan - At the Heart of the Problem. Robert Cassidy, PhD and retired U.S. Army colonel, provides insight as to why Pakistan lies at the very center of implementing a 'new Afghanistan strategy' in "Pakistan: Graveyard of Strategy", Modern War Institute at West Point, January 31, 2018.

Pakistan - A Thorn in the Side of the U.S. Mark Mazzetti tells us how Afghanistan's neighbor cultivated American dependency while subverting American policy in "The Devastating Paradox of Pakistan", The Atlantic, March 2018.

Costs Pakistan Will Endure. Michael Kugelman, Asia Program Deputy Director and Senior Associate for South Asia at the Wilson Center, comments on the costs that Pakistan will endure for supporting the Afghan Taliban. "Winter is coming for Pakistan's military as US aid freeze sets in", East Asia Forum, January 31, 2018.

Regional Aspects of Afghan Conflict

Geopolitical Rivalries in the Afghan Conflict. There are many different perspectives of the roots of the Afghan conflict. The Centre for Research on Globalization provides its viewpoint on the 'real reasons' the U.S. stays engaged in Afghanistan. For a little bit of reality mixed in with a good dose of fiction read "Geopolitical Rivalries and Afghanistan's Open-Ended War. China Extends Its Influence to the Detriment of America", by Fraidoon Amel, January 29, 2018.

Regional Neighbors Important to Resolving Afghan War. Washington's attempt to find a resolution to the Afghan conflict militarily while continuously antagonizing Iran and Pakistan is bound to end badly. Read "Afghanistan Cannot Be Resolved in Isolation from Its Neighborhood", by Mohammed Ayob, National Interest, January 30, 2018.

Regional Connectivity Important to Peace. M. Ashraf Haidari writes about how to obtain peace in Afghanistan. Factors include Pakistan and India resolving their differences, the ceasing of support of the Taliban by Afghanistan's neighboring countries, and enhancing the economic connectivity of the region. "Key to Peace in Afghanistan", The Daily Pioneer, February 1, 2018.

Commentary on the Afghan War

Gauging Success or Failure. Dr. Seth Jones, associated with the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) provides an update on the current situation in Afghanistan and looks at the various data points and metrics that could be used to determine who is winning and who is losing in Afghanistan. The State of the Afghan War, CSIS, January 31, 2018.

Book Review of "Unwinnable". Ahmed Rashid reviews Unwinnable  - how the UK military conducted its war in Afghanistan. Read "Theo Farrell's Unwinnable shows Britain never had a chance in Afghanistan", Prospect Magazine, January 24, 2018.

End U.S. Intervention in Afghanistan. Bonnie Kristian, a fellow at Defense Priorities, suggests the time has come to end the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan. "US Afghan intervention is a failure of concept, not execution", Washington Examiner, February 2, 2018.

Still in Afghanistan? Julia MacFarlane, an ABC news reporter, examines the current situation in Afghanistan and asks "Why is the US still in Afghanistan", ABC News, February 2, 2018.


Abuse of Afghan Boys. A recent report by a U.S. government agency on the practice of using boys for sex (bacha bazi) by personnel of the Afghan security forces has sparked outrage. Several Afghan government officials have come out strongly against the practice. One of them is the Ambassador to the United States - Hamdullah Mohib. Read his article in "Afghan ambassador: Abuse of boys is illegal", USA Today, January 29, 2018.

Defiance in the Face of Terror. The capital of Kabul has suffered through several terrorist attacks . . . but it will rebound and continue on in its quest to become a vibrant city. Read one person's viewpoint on the recent terror attacks in "If ISIS and the Taliban think they can break the spirit of Afghans, they are fools", by Rabia Nasimi,, January 20, 2018.

Afghanistan Losing International Support? Rakesh Sood, a fellow at the Observer Research Foundation and long-time Indian diplomat, provides his perspective on the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan amid the probability that international support will diminish. Read "Afghanistan, On A Slow Fuse"ORF, January 25, 2018.

COIN - Can it Work? Afghanistan has suffered through a long run of insurgency. So the NATO, U.S., and Afghan military personnel that are fighting the insurgents could be called  "counterinsurgents". But do they know they are "counterinsurgents" and do they know how to conduct counterinsurgency? If an insurgency runs for 16 years can we conclude that counterinsurgency is a failed concept? Or do we conclude that we haven't executed counterinsurgency properly? Or is it possible that counterinsurgency requires a host of factors to all be present for it to be successful? Daniel Shell explores these questions in this short piece entitled "Is COIN Inherently Fragile? And Even Worse, Is Insurgency Anti-Fragile?", Task & Purpose, January 29, 2018.

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