Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Traffic Circle of Afghanistan

In America, they are called traffic circles. Other geographic locations use the term roundabout. Regardless of where you are, the concept is the same - a whole bunch of twirling, bustling activity that you must somehow thrust yourself into and exit the other side, hopefully unscathed.

So it is with Afghanistan.

Pundits and politicos galore have surfaced scores of ideas about strategies that might deliver the increasingly elusive goal of success. From better governance to protecting the citizenry as a primary mission, to building out infrastructure and ramping up Afghani police and military capability, there's no shortage of suggestions.

But which to choose?

Adam Serwer at TAPPED makes the following observation:

So everyone agreed COIN was the way to go, which isn't much of a "debate," but their emphasis on different aspects of COIN inadvertently shows how difficult it will be for this strategy to work. There are so many difficult objectives that need to be achieved, and the whole COIN strategy falls apart if the U.S. fails to achieve any one of them. With no legitimate government, there's nothing for COIN to strengthen. With no strong civil society, the Afghan government will collapse. If the U.S. can't persuade the Afghan population to see American soldiers as being on their side, there's no way for a U.S. backed government to gain the trust of the Afghan people. Without functioning police and army, there's no one for the U.S. to hand over the job of protecting the Afghans over to. And so on and so forth.

The margin for error grows ever smaller. Is there really an answer?

Image via Wikimedia Commons

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