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Metz on the Afghan Surge

Nothing like dueling Steves (see previous post).

Dr. Steve Metz of SSI compares the surges of Obama and Bush and finds them to be cut from the same cloth. Hat tip to SWJ Blog.

How Obama”s Surge is Like Bush’s

….Ultimately, though, the Obama strategy in Afghanistan and the Bush strategy in Iraq are more alike than different–variations on a theme rather than stark alternatives. Both were attempts to give a beleaguered ally an opportunity to reverse its slide into disaster. And both were gambles. In Iraq, President Bush bet that the Maliki government would rein in sectarian violence, and that the Iraqi Security Forces were nearly ready to assume responsibility for their nation’s security. This panned out. Now President Obama is making the same bet. His strategy is contingent on the Afghan security forces, bolstered by increased assistance from the U.S. military, being able to conduct counterinsurgency on its own by 2011. Even more importantly, Obama’s plan is contingent on the Karzai government’s reining in its crushing corruption and addressing the myriad problems that the Afghan people face. If the Afghan security forces or the Karzai government are not up to the task, nothing the United States can do will matter. A surge of 20,000, 30,000, or 100,000 would be equally irrelevant. Unfortunately, only President Karzai and the Afghan security forces can determine whether the Obama strategy works. Our fate is in their hands.

Read the rest here

Steve has spotted a poor contingency for the administration to rely upon. Putting the war strategy on Karzai’s performance is akin to building a house on quicksand. It might look a little like wet cement but it is not going to harden into a foundation no matter how much time passes. We need to work within the parameters of our own capacities and with realistic and not utopian options.

We’d garner more goodwill giving every Afghan child a pony than by waiting for villagers to see honest officials from Kabul appear. It’d be cheaper too.

3 Responses to “Metz on the Afghan Surge”

  1. onparkstreet Says:

    The corruption angle always seems very strange to me. How do Afghans view corruption? Do the majority simply want to be left alone, whether from a corrupt central government or the Taliban, ISI and other regional actors/proxies? The Obama administration’s public wrangling with Karzai seems to underscore the confusion, at least to this layperson. Just how good does the central government have to be in the above scenario? Good enough not to piss off the locals and field a reasonable army or security force? The second part, and particularly the long-term sustainability of it, seems a tall order.
    I think we will pacify the south a bit, try and hold some of it, and then, in about a year, ask ourselves "what do we do now?" Talk of timetables and metrics and exit strategies and "what does victory look like" all seem the same thing to me, despite political types screeching that they may be different. I remain, as ever, confused!
    On the other hand, the Indian Prime Minister had a very interesting interview in the Washington Post, recently, pleading for some sort of international presence in Afghanistan. He seemed, from his comments, to believe a centralized government could hold. Interesting.

  2. onparkstreet Says:

    I posted the same link some time ago in a comment at Mudville Gazette:
    "I hope the United States and the global community will stay involved in Afghanistan. A victory for the Taliban in Afghanistan would have catastrophic consequences for the world, particularly for South Asia, for Central Asia and for the Middle East. Religious fundamentalism in the 1980s was used to defeat the Soviet Union. If this same group of people that defeated the Soviet Union now defeats the other major power, this would embolden them in a manner which could have catastrophic consequences for the world. " – from the Washington post interview with PM M. Singh
    Of course, American goals are not necessarily Indian goals and it would make sense for India to try and use American resources to further her regional strategy. That is why I’ve always been leary of calls for a more overt US diplomatic mediation between India and Pakistan (I’m fine with behind the scenes arm-twisting, though.) I don’t know.

  3. “As far as Afghanistan is concerned, I’m not sure whether the United States and Pakistan have the same objectives.” « OnParkStreet Says:

    […] above goes along with some comments I made at zenpundit, […]

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