Ultimately, the [U.S.] president succumbed to the dominant assumptions of the last two decades. Just as 8th century Mahayana Buddhists invented world after world, filling them with their distinctive demons and bodhisattvas, our think tanks and governments have also developed their own metaphysical structures, labeling them "failed states," or "counter-insurgency."...--Rory Stewart
...Take, for example, the master-concept behind Obama's surge, namely that in order to prevent Afghanistan posing a terrorist threat it was necessary to launch full-spectrum counter-insurgency operations. It is possible, of course, to expose the curious premises, analogies and chains of inductive logic which imply our activities in 2010 are an efficient way of preventing another terrorist attack. And 20 years from now, we may struggle to explain why we once felt Afghanistan required the deployment of 100,000 troops or the spending $100 billion each year -- why it required far more resources and attention than its more powerful and populous neighbors Iran or Pakistan.
A couple more Britishers on the topic, plus one chap from the colonies: William Dalrymple and Paul Rogers, George Packer.