• News
  • Celebrities
  • Finance
  • Crypto
  • Travel
  • Entertainment
  • Health
  • Others

When Thinking About Afghanistan, Maybe It’s Best To Pretend Iraq Never Happened « The Washington Independent

There will be debate for years as to what the lessons of the Iraq war are. That’s good, and appropriate. What’s dangerous is to presume that whatever worked or didn’t work in Iraq will work or not work in Afghanistan. This is probably more of an unconscious presumption right now than anything else — you don’t see too many arguments of the form “This worked in Iraq, so it will probably work in Afghanistan” — but there are some discomforting similarities, if not entirely parallel ones.

There are some lessons from Iraq that seem like good-enough general principles for Afghanistan. One is that protecting the population — that is, providing for its security from both insurgent aggression and counterinsurgent collateral damage; providing for its material needs, including food, health care and economic opportunity; and providing an outlet for its political grievances and concerns, along with mechanisms to ensure and deliver justice — is essential for denying insurgent groups the civilian feeder pool they require to sustain themselves. Another is that all unhappy local circumstances are unhappy in their own way. The more deeply involved a counterinsurgent is in understanding her particular area of operations — what the locals’ concerns are; how the insurgents operate; what tools are available to address the legitimate concerns of the populace — the more successful they’ll be. That rule *should *prevent someone from thinking, “Well, it worked in that other case, several thousand miles away,” but people have an understandable tendency to look to experience as a guide. Insurgencies are maddening cases where experience can be deceptive rather than helpful.

Bing West, whose recent book about counterinsurgency in Iraq has been widely praised, gave a talk earlier this month that used the case of the Anbar Awakening to make this point very well:

My third point is that the 2007 surge strategy in Iraq has gained mythic status that endangers clear thinking about Afghanistan. In Iraq, the Sunni tribes came over to the American side – to the strongest tribe – starting in late 2006 in Anbar. That change in attitude, called the “Awakening”, provided the bedrock upon which General Petraeus anchored his winning strategy. Had the Sunnis remained as uncooperative in 2007 as they had been in 2004, the situation would have been dire. Shortly before al Qaeda killed him, I asked Sheik Abu Risha Sattar, who led the Awakening, why the tribes hadn’t awakened earlier and saved bloodshed on both sides. “You Americans couldn’t convince us,” he replied. “We Sunnis had to convince ourselves.”

Sattar’s words are a warning about predicting when and why the tide of insurgent battle begins to ebb. Yes, sending 17,000 more American soldiers and marines to Afghanistan is necessary. But we don’t know what dynamic, if any, will cause the Pashtun sub-tribes on the Afghan side of the border to band together decisively against the Taliban gangs of Pashtuns attacking from Pakistan. We know the example set by staunch American soldiers makes a huge difference. Americans can provide temporary glue, but eventually the Afghanis must bind together their own tribal dynamics.

I’ve had my disagreements with West, but this is a very timely point. If Iraq can’t be avoided as a case study for Afghanistan, it’s necessary to look at why something worked in Iraq and then ask if similar circumstances exist in Afghanistan. But could it be more prudent to overcorrect, and to look to Iraq as minimally as possible?

Discussion & Comments (0)

    Recent Articles

    • Things You Should Know about North America

      Things You Should Know about North America

      Get to know more about North America.

    • Eurovision 2010 Paula Seling Unpredictable Contest

      Eurovision 2010 Paula Seling Unpredictable Contest

      Paula Seling's experience on the Eurovision stage led her to declare that "Eurovision is an unpredictable contest". Which may explain the success of the young Lena from Germany, about whom the predictions before the event did not offer much chances for victory.

    • VIPRow.me - The Best Sports Streaming Website Today

      VIPRow.me - The Best Sports Streaming Website Today

      Have you ever contemplated creating a user-friendly site dedicated to sports-related free live streaming channels?

    • Learn How To Download, Install, And Use The Xnxubd 2022 Frame App

      Learn How To Download, Install, And Use The Xnxubd 2022 Frame App

      XNXUBD 2022 Nvidia users are able to watch thousands of videos and other contents online. XNXUBD 2022 Nvidia New is a piece of software that enables people to watch videos online without having to pay for memberships. On a graphics card, the XNXubd also provides some of the best gaming and virtual reality experiences.

    • Xvideostudio Video Editor Apk Free Download For Pc Full Version In 2022

      Xvideostudio Video Editor Apk Free Download For Pc Full Version In 2022

      A new edition of the Video Editor Apk for xVideostudio.Video Studio has all the latest features, including support for multiple video download formats in HD, FHD, and even 4K resolutions.

    • 9 Best Lotion For Masturbation - Popular Choice For 2022

      9 Best Lotion For Masturbation - Popular Choice For 2022

      Masturbation is a common activity for men and women. It's a natural and risk-free way to explore your body, experience pleasure, and release sexual tension.

    • Reasons Why You Need To Stop Watching Movies From Sflix

      Reasons Why You Need To Stop Watching Movies From Sflix

      Without having to sign up or pay anything, you can watch movies online for free with SFlix. It has more than 10,000 movies and television shows.

    • Coi Leray Mom And Dad's Family History & Wife, Explained

      Coi Leray Mom And Dad's Family History & Wife, Explained

      Coi Leray Collins (born May 11, 1997) is a rapper from the United States. Leray started publishing songs to SoundCloud in 2014, and in 2018 she released her breakthrough track "Huddy" as well as her first mixtape, Everythingcoz.

    • Listen And Download Music On MyFreeMP3 For Free

      Listen And Download Music On MyFreeMP3 For Free

      Are you in a bind and looking for a place to obtain free mp3 songs? Never again will you need to bother, since this article has everything necessary to obtain your solution. Download free music from MyfreeMP3.com, one of the world's most popular websites.