The costs of the second Iraq war, which began 10 years ago this week, are staggering: nearly 4,500 Americans killed and more than 30,000 wounded, many grievously; tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis wounded or killed; more than $2 trillion in direct government expenditures; and the significant weakening of the major regional counterweight to Iran and consequent strengthening of that country’s position and ambitions. Great powers rarely make national decisions that explode so quickly and completely in their face.
It may seem folly to seek a silver lining among these thunderclouds. But there are three flickers of light that offer some hope that the enormous price was not paid entirely in vain.… Seguir leyendo »
Americans haven’t lost a war in so long, we’ve forgotten what doing so looks like — and what it costs. The only war that we undeniably lost was the Vietnam War; thrown out of the country literally under fire, we abandoned our allies to a horrific fate and left behind a legacy of terror in the region, breaking our Army in the process.
Despite the miasma of discontent with the effort, the United States and its many allies are not losing in Afghanistan. The spate of “green on blue” killings of U.S. soldiers by members of the Afghan security forces — some Taliban infiltrators, but mostly disgruntled or frustrated Afghans after a decade of foreign occupation — is a serious threat to our partnership strategy.… Seguir leyendo »
IT is hard to tell when momentum shifts in a counterinsurgency campaign, but there is increasing evidence that Afghanistan is moving in a more positive direction than many analysts think. It now seems more likely than not that the country can achieve the modest level of stability and self-reliance necessary to allow the United States to responsibly draw down its forces from 100,000 to 25,000 troops over the next four years.
The shift is most obvious on the ground. The additional 30,000 troops promised by President Obama in his speech at West Point 14 months ago are finally in place and changing the trajectory of the fight.… Seguir leyendo »
With Afghan President Hamid Karzai visiting Washington this week, The Post asked experts whether the surge in Afghanistan was working. Below are contributions from Erin M. Simpson, Gilles Dorronsoro, Kurt Volker, John Nagl, Thomas H. Johnson and Andrew J. Bacevich.
Any discussion of the effectiveness of the surge must begin with two observations. First, counterinsurgency is an exercise in competitive governance, meaning the troops “surged” to Afghanistan are only part of a very complex equation. Second, less than half the troops that President Obama authorized in December have arrived here. It’s far too early to tell whether the so-called surge has “worked.”
Most of the troops who have arrived are Marine battalions deployed to Helmand province, with many participating in coalition operations in Marja — in many ways the hardest test-case of Gen.… Seguir leyendo »
The Post asked foreign policy experts whether President Obama should maintain a focus on protecting the population and rebuilding the country, or on striking terrorists. Below are contributions from Jane Harman, Kurt Volker, Gilles Dorronsoro, John Nagl, Ronald E. Neumann, Meghan O’Sullivan and Carl M. Levin.
Jane Harman, Democratic representative from California and former ranking member of the House intelligence committee.
It’s too early to abandon a strategy focused on protecting the population and rebuilding the country, a key part of which is Afghan buy-in. We should aim to shrink our ground footprint and focus on training a growing army of willing and courageous Afghans.… Seguir leyendo »
The Post asked foreign policy experts for their views on American troops’ pullback from Iraqi cities. Below are contributions from Danielle Pletka, Daniel P. Serwer, Michael O’Hanlon, Andrew J. Bacevich and John A. Nagl.
Danielle Pletka, Vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute.
It will be tempting to judge today’s pullback of American troops from Iraqi cities by the relative calm — or lack thereof — that ensues in its wake. That’s how al Qaeda wants the world to judge the scene, and, accordingly, the group and its allies have pulled out all the stops to step up violence on the ground.… Seguir leyendo »