Sunday, June 26, 2011

Afghanistan: Night Raids and "Victory"

Read this account of US forces conducting a night raid in Afghanistan; multiply it by 100 or so (at least); consider  the impact on "hearts and minds."

Then write John McCain and Lindsey Graham and ask them about that "victory" thing.

And have a look at David Ignatius' newest at WaPo, about the US's "long war" on terrorism, where he too raises the question of the impact of the US's harsh counterterrorism tactics in Afghanistan: 

What worries me, thinking about the future that Obama outlined in Afghanistan, is U.S. reliance on the harshest weapons in our arsenal — the killing machine that is America’s counterterrorism force. With Predator drones and the “capture or kill” night raids of the Joint Special Operations Command, America has found a way to punish its enemies without risking large U.S. casualties.
Obama concluded that this counterterrorism side of counterinsurgency works far more reliably than the uncertain, nation-building side. The embrace of counterterrorism tactics makes sense as an exit strategy from Afghanistan, and as a continuing check against al-Qaeda. But America should understand that this is a dark face of war — something perilously close to combat by assassination. It needs more debate before it’s elevated to a cornerstone of American strategy. 

But as the AP notes, ever since McChrystal departed and Petraeus took over, the US has largely abandoned the COIN approach for one that emphasizes - in both war-fighting and intelligence-gathering -  killing people over winning people over.

In a period when the epicenter of global economic - and perhaps, military and political - power seems inexorably moving eastward from the US and Europe, this may well come back to haunt the US.
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