Friday, 15 October 2010
A Change of Plan
Apart from the tragic death of aid worker Linda Norgrove, there has been very little mention of Afghanistan from our politicians. David Cameron hasn't uttered the words 'war cabinet' since his first week in office.
There's been much talk about impending Strategic Defence and Security Review. That's the review in which our defence and security will be decided by how much we can afford to pay rather than do an in-depth study of what we require for our safety and then decide how we fund it. What is already evident is that our security may well be compromised, particularly since George Osborne decided the cost of the replacement Trident had to be included in the defence budget.
To find information about our present situation in Afghanistan I have to look outside the UK and it wasn't too surprising to discover an article, by Fred Kaplan, in which he states:
Officials say a shift in U.S. war strategy has begun to take place in Afghanistan, away from classic counterinsurgency (protecting the population, providing basic services, promoting good government) and toward the traditional business of killing and capturing bad guys.
So the strategy has changed again and counterinsurgency has taken a back seat while there has been a huge increase, just in the last three months, of military attacks. It is now calculated, even by many COIN advocates, that the process would take too long - and be too corrupted by Afghan politics - to work in any practical sense. In the US, the time needed for success through a COIN campaign alone - another six to ten years or more the strategy's most avid supporters estimate - is seen as politically unsustainable.
Part of the failure of COIN is that it is only successful when it is supported by the host government. Karzai's government is so distrusted by its own people - and so incompetent at, on uninterested in, providing services - that it can't really serve as a reliable partner in a COIN campaign.
As our armed forces are under the command of Gen. Petraeus, they will also be aware that COIN is ineffective and progress is exceptionally slow. Is that why David Cameron is reluctant to mention the words 'Afghanistan' and 'progress' in the same sentence?
To quote Kaplan 'The path to the end of this war is suddenly a bit clearer, but how this thing ends and what happens afterward remains as murky as ever'. How true.