Showing posts with label critics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label critics. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Our Mistakes in Afghanistan

After so many years of fighting in Afghanistan there are a host of critics who would tell us how we could have done better. Foreign Policy has posted an article on its website that tells us just that - providing input from important observers (and participants) of the conflict are Rory Stewart, Pervez Musharraf, Seth Jones, Amrullah Saleh, Sarah Chayes, and Fred Kagan.

Rory Stewart, a member of British Parliament and author, says we should have limited our goals in Afghanistan to the success achieved in 2002/2003, that nation-building required a legitimate government (not present under Karzai), and Afghanistan was not a good place to try and install a modern society and democratic western-style government.

Pervez Musharraf, the former president of Pakistan, says the United States blundered and committed three major errors: abandoning Afghanistan after the Soviet defeat in 1989, attempting to isolate the Taliban once they reached power in 1996, and failing to convert military victory in the early 2000s to a political victory by backing Karzai and not including a significant number of Pashtuns in the new government.

Seth Jones, noted author and former advisor to CFSOCC-A commander, says that allowing the Taliban sanctuary in Pakistan was a huge mistake. He cites three contributing factors: a lack of a regional security agreement post Bonn conference (Dec 2001), a failure by the U.S. and Pakistan to target the senior Taliban leaders operating in Baluchistan province, Pakistan, and not enough effort in reaching out to the Taliban early in the war to bring them into the political process.

Amrullah Saleh, the former head of the Afghan intelligence service, says we were mistaken in thinking Pakistan could change in its ways of providing support and money to the Taliban insurgency.

Sherard Cowper-Coles, a British special representative to Afghanistan, says we never developed a political strategy within which a military campaign could be successful. In addition, the imposition of a constitution ensuring a strong central government was at odds with the history of Afghanistan.

Sarah Chayes, a one-time resident of Afghanistan for several years and former advisor to military commanders, says that the U.S. aided the growth of the Taliban when it supported the return of corrupt warlords to power in concert with Karzai. This was compounded with turning a blind eye to the corruption that slowly grew in the Afghan government and to Karzai's use of a vast political and criminal patronage network to keep himself in power.

Two authors on Afghanistan, Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn, says we continued to send military members to Afghanistan who did not have an understanding of the country, language, culture, or the complexity of the conflict.

Frederick Kagan, of the American Enterprise Institute and frequent visitor and observer of Afghanistan, thinks that we are not leaving enough troops in Afghanistan after 2014 and sees the future plans of withdrawal of the Obama administration as a mistake.

A lot of good information and differing opinions of what went wrong in Afghanistan. One of the best reads in a long time on the war. Read more in "What Went Wrong in Afghanistan?", Foreign Policy, March/April 2013.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Army LTC Shares Dismal View of War with Congress

An Army LTC, having just returned this past fall from Afghanistan, has provided his views of how the war is going (not well) with Congress.  Read "In Afghan War, Officer Becomes a Whistle-blower", The New York Times, February 5, 2012.  LTC Daniel L. Davis has wrote an article about his experience and what he saw entitled "Truth, Lies and Afghanistan" published in the Armed Forces Journal, February 2012. His message is that the situation on the ground in Afghanistan is not as rosy as our senior military leaders would have us think - that they are not being entirely truthful with the war news. Once cleared by the military he intends to post a longer and more revealing article on his website -