Best Defense

LA Times misunderstands Afghan war

The Los Angeles Times has an editorial today that parses Petraeus’s new emphasis on arming locals in Afghanistan. It concludes that, "The question is how to make sure they remain on the side of the central government." Actually, that gets the issue exactly backwards — and shows how little the editorialist understands the war. The ...

lafrancevi/flickr
lafrancevi/flickr

The Los Angeles Times has an editorial today that parses Petraeus’s new emphasis on arming locals in Afghanistan. It concludes that, "The question is how to make sure they remain on the side of the central government."

Actually, that gets the issue exactly backwards — and shows how little the editorialist understands the war. The question Petraeus is actually posing to Karzai is how the central government is going to win over armed villagers. That is why this move is important — it empowers locals and so gives Petraeus a lever to start challenging the ways of those around Karzai.

News flash for the LA Times: Our biggest problem in Afghanistan isn’t the Taliban, it is the corrupt and abusive ways of the Karzai government. The Taliban is a byproduct of that behavior. (And yeah, our second biggest problem is the Pakistani government.)

Thomas 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 ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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