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A Sons-Of-Afghanistan Consensus All of a Sudden?

Some days you end up staring into the rhetorical shaving mirror, lost in the reflection of your face, tracing features that suddenly seem unfamiliar. The air has a different smell. The path from home to work seems longer. That’s how I feel reading this Christian Science Monitor piece about Afghanistan:

Now, the United States increasingly wants to encourage other tribal elders in Afghanistan to do the same. In what is taking shape as a substantial policy shift, it wants to use tribes to bring law and order to the vast areas of the country beyond the government’s authority.

That would be kind of strange, given that I asked the U.S. commander in Afghanistan about this two weeks ago, and he said that he doesn’t believe that a “Pashtun Awakening” is in the cards. But the Monitor quotes that same general, David McKiernan, as being a proponent of such a strategy.

In the briefing McKiernan gave that I attended, he said explicitly that he’d back a program of tribal outreach launched by the Afghan government, but emphasized that he didn’t want that to be a military (or, at least, purely military) endeavor. It seems a bit like the Monitor is shoehorning McKiernan a bit too far into that frame. But who knows — maybe such a thing will emerge out of the strategy review that McKiernan’s new boss, tribal-outreach proponent David Petraeus, is launching.

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