The case for supporting victory
Monday, November 23, 2009
Since we are hearing that surrender is on the table, we better take a look at what it would take to win. The Foreign Policy Initiative has a document exploding many of the myths about Gen. McChrystal's request for a fully-resourced Counterinsurgency strategy.
During the time that President Obama has been mulling the way forward in Afghanistan, a number of politicians, advisors, and analysts have put forth various arguments against a significant increase in troop strength and a counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy. The arguments, when closely considered, expose a default resistance to completing the mission, not a thoughtful dismantling of the pro “surge” case. Below you’ll find a list of the most popular critiques of General Stanley McChrystal’s COIN strategy and resource request, each followed by clear refutations from relevant experts.
Charge: The illegitimate election of Hamid Karzai means failure for any stepped up effort in Afghanistan.
Response: “[C]onsider the analogous case of Iraq over the last three years,” write Richard Fontaine and John Nagl in the Los Angeles Times. “At the time [of the surge of forces to Iraq], Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's Shiite-led government was widely viewed as weak and sectarian. An overwhelming number of Sunni Arabs -- who formed the center of gravity of the insurgency -- rejected its legitimacy and had boycotted the December 2005 elections that brought it to power. The Maliki government had done little to allay these feelings; on the contrary, elements of its security forces participated in sectarian violence against Sunnis through 2006.” Yet Gen. David H. Petraeus' counterinsurgency strategy was able to protect populations, restore order, and make room for the political reconciliation that would not have otherwise been possible. “Prospects for such an outcome in Afghanistan actually look better now than they did in Iraq in early 2007,” write Fontaine and Nagl, “unlike Iraq -- where success hinged on persuading a critical mass of the Sunni Arab community to accept the bitter reality of a Shiite-led government -- no deep existential issue drives Afghans (primarily Pashtuns) into the arms of the insurgents.” In fact, all polls and other data indicate that “the national government in Afghanistan almost certainly retains greater legitimacy among the people than did the Iraqi government before things began to turn for the better there.” -- Los Angeles Times
There is plenty more and it quite easily punctures many of the arguments bandied about as to why we cannot win. And they finished this paper before the reports of a possible awakening against the Taliban came out.