In Afghanistan, we cannot recommit ourselves to a“counterinsurgency” strategy that has already failed.
President Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai will meet later this week to discuss the terms of American withdrawal from the twelve-year long war in Afghanistan. Obama is moving forward with his scheduled removal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
The American commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen, reportedly wanted to keep the more than 60,000 U..S troops in country through this year’s fighting season. Nevertheless, the White House is going ahead with a withdrawal schedule that will reduce the force this summer and to leave only about 25,000-30,000 troops there by spring of next year, and as few as 3,000-4,000 by the end of next year.
That’s too much and too fast for the neocons. They who devised the “nation-building” strategy — and its military implementation,“counterinsurgency” — are rebelling against the idea.
In a Wednesday Wall Street Journal piece, two top neocons — Frederick and Kimberly Kagan — argue that we have to leave substantial forces in Afghanistan indefinitely or we will have wasted a decade of war. The Kagans were close advisers to Gen. David Petraeus when he was the commander in Afghanistan. They believe we need to recommit ourselves to the “counterinsurgency” strategy that has already failed.
The Kagans define success in Afghanistan as driving al Qaeda from the nation and preventing its return. They point out correctly that the “global al Qaeda movement” is headquartered in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region and is home to the largest concentration of regional and global Islamist terrorist organizations in the world.
The neocons attribute this to the fact that Pakistan “does not effectively govern, police, or control” the large area on its side of the border. They say that the Afghan government, though fighting hard in the region, hasn’t succeeded in controlling the larger area on its side of the border.