Thursday, January 29, 2009

Roll to your rifle

There’s clearly a consensus that things are heading in the wrong direction. What’s not clear to me is why sending 30,000 more troops is the essential step to changing that. My understanding of the larger objective of the allied enterprise in Afghanistan is to bring into existence something that looks like a modern cohesive Afghan state. Well, it could be that that’s an unrealistic objective. It could be that sending 30,000 more troops is throwing money and lives down a rat hole.
-- Andrew Bacevich, quoted in Obama's War: Fearing Another Quagmire in Afghanistan.

An Obama administration may, the report says, "look for ways to press Mr. Karzai to crack down on corruption and drug trafficking." Well, that seems more likely than not to fail.

Whatever comes cannot be separated from what happens in Pakistan. Here, William Dalrymple suggests in a review of Ahmed Rashid's new book, there should be three priorities: negotiate with elements of the Taliban; reform/crack down on ISI and Pakistani military (as if!); and find ways to stop the madrasa-inspired and Saudi-financed advance of Wahhabi Islam.

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