- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The other day I was looking back at Bernard Fall’s terrific speech on counterinsurgency to the Naval War College, delivered I think in 1964, and the following quote struck me. This comes right after a section in which he has asserted that tracking which side is collecting more taxes, the government or the insurgents, is a good way to understand which is winning. The italics are his.
I have emphasized that the straight military aspects, or the conventional military aspects of insurgency, are not the most important. Tax collections have nothing to do with helicopters… I would like to put it in an even simpler way: When a country is being subverted, it is not being outfought; it is being outadministered… [W]e can win the war and lose the country.
In 100 words or less: How would you apply that thought to Afghanistan today?