Another realistic view of Afghanistan

If you’re looking for another realistic counter to the official optimism about Afghanistan, check out Christopher Layne’s op-ed from two days ago in the Chicago Tribune.  In a handful of sharp, short paragraphs, Layne reminds us that 1) the "surge" in Iraq (the approach now being adapted to Afghanistan) didn’t work, 2) the current emphasis ...

Walt-Steve-foreign-policy-columnist20
Walt-Steve-foreign-policy-columnist20
Stephen M. Walt
By , a columnist at Foreign Policy and the Robert and Renée Belfer professor of international relations at Harvard University.
YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images
YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images
YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images

If you're looking for another realistic counter to the official optimism about Afghanistan, check out Christopher Layne's op-ed from two days ago in the Chicago Tribune.  In a handful of sharp, short paragraphs, Layne reminds us that 1) the "surge" in Iraq (the approach now being adapted to Afghanistan) didn't work, 2) the current emphasis on counterinsurgency (COIN) warfare misdiagnoses the origins of our troubles in the Middle East and Central Asia, and 3) our current fascination with COIN "sets exactly the wrong strategic priorities for the United States." 

Smart piece. It will take some time before this view become the conventional wisdom, but I'm still betting that it will.  Unfortunately, it will be many billions of dollars and thousands of lives too late.  

If you’re looking for another realistic counter to the official optimism about Afghanistan, check out Christopher Layne’s op-ed from two days ago in the Chicago Tribune.  In a handful of sharp, short paragraphs, Layne reminds us that 1) the "surge" in Iraq (the approach now being adapted to Afghanistan) didn’t work, 2) the current emphasis on counterinsurgency (COIN) warfare misdiagnoses the origins of our troubles in the Middle East and Central Asia, and 3) our current fascination with COIN "sets exactly the wrong strategic priorities for the United States." 

Smart piece. It will take some time before this view become the conventional wisdom, but I’m still betting that it will.  Unfortunately, it will be many billions of dollars and thousands of lives too late.  

Stephen M. Walt is a columnist at Foreign Policy and the Robert and Renée Belfer professor of international relations at Harvard University. Twitter: @stephenwalt

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