Strategy in Afghanistan

I mostly agree with Kotare’s assessment of the Obama strategy. It is not rhetoric–it sets clearly defined objectives. I also echo Yglesias in his enthusiasm for benchmarks.

The problems lie in those objectives’ implementation. They are ambitious, and as Van Riper would say (and did often at Boyd 2007), “wicked problems.” As Tom Ricks blogs, it’s quite easy to denounce corruption and quite difficult to actually do something about it. Likewise, while Obama makes reference to created a holistic regional strategy and a security conference for concerned powers, Ricks blogs that there is little to no content about the Pakistani military. The capacity-building steps Obama lists (broadening economic assistance, economic cooperation, strengthening the Pakistani government’s capacity) are good but in many ways Pakistan’s dysfunctional civil-military relationship is at the heart of the problem.

I’m sure more details will be made available over the coming weeks. Until then, read the White Paper for more information.

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