Carrots and sticks in southern Afghanistan

This Reuters story offers a fascinating glimpse of how NATO and American forces are trying to blend reconstruction and counterinsurgency in southern Afghanistan. British and U.S. forces offered lavish promises of aid — but also remarkably blunt threats of more violence — to Afghan elders on Thursday at their first meeting since a battle to ...

By , a professor at Indiana University’s Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies.

This Reuters story offers a fascinating glimpse of how NATO and American forces are trying to blend reconstruction and counterinsurgency in southern Afghanistan.

British and U.S. forces offered lavish promises of aid -- but also remarkably blunt threats of more violence -- to Afghan elders on Thursday at their first meeting since a battle to clear Taliban guerrillas from a mountain valley that could be a key to controlling southern Afghanistan.

The U.S. Special Forces commander in the story comes off looking like he blew it, but it's very hard to know without more context. The British and the Americans certainly have different styles of counterinsurgency warfare.

This Reuters story offers a fascinating glimpse of how NATO and American forces are trying to blend reconstruction and counterinsurgency in southern Afghanistan.

British and U.S. forces offered lavish promises of aid — but also remarkably blunt threats of more violence — to Afghan elders on Thursday at their first meeting since a battle to clear Taliban guerrillas from a mountain valley that could be a key to controlling southern Afghanistan.

The U.S. Special Forces commander in the story comes off looking like he blew it, but it's very hard to know without more context. The British and the Americans certainly have different styles of counterinsurgency warfare.

Overall, it's difficult to chart the trajectory of the Afghan insurgency. Most stories on Afghanistan describe the insurgency as "growing," but it's now been growing for several years without being able to topple the government or even hold large swaths of territory. There are some encouraging signs that the Taliban's summer offensive will not be as virulent as they had hoped. And some top Taliban commanders have been offed. As the scientists say, the plural of anecdote is not data, but at the very least, NATO appears to be holding its own.

David Bosco is a professor at Indiana University’s Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies. He is the author of The Poseidon Project: The Struggle to Govern the World’s Oceans. Twitter: @multilateralist

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