September 30, 2015 | Quote

Why Troops Must Stay in Afghanistan

Afghan forces are even now struggling to retake the northern city of Kunduz, which fell to the Taliban yesterday. It is proving a hard slog because the Taliban have been entrenched for so long around the city that its approaches are now full of booby-traps and Taliban fighters. Even if the Taliban are ultimately ousted, however, the damage will have been done: It is hugely demoralizing to see the Taliban take control of a major city for the first time since 2001. It certainly puts paid to any hopes (unrealistic to begin with) that peace negotiations could ever succeed. Why should the Taliban make any concessions at the bargaining table when they still have a good chance of retaking the entire country by force?


But while the fall of Kunduz is undoubtedly significant, its significance is subject to debate. Over at the indispensable Long War Journal, Bill Roggio, one of the most astute analysts of terrorism, argues, “The fall of Kunduz would invalidate the entire US ‘surge’ strategy from 2009 to 2012.” Undoubtedly others will take up a similar theme, arguing that the fall of Kunduz, along with the disasters that have befallen Iraq in recent years, invalidate counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy as it was implemented in both countries.


Read the full article here


CLARIFICATION: Bill Roggio says that I distorted his point about the surge strategy not working in Afghanistan. He writes to me: “My point would essentially be that the military is capable of executing COIN, and given time and resources it could have succeeded in Afghanistan (and Iraq) but the Afghan surge was doomed to fail as it was under-resourced and restrained by time. “ That is the same point that I made. I’m glad that Roggio and I agree, but I’m sure there are many others out there who will cite the fall of Kunduz as an indictment of COIN in general.


Afghanistan Al Qaeda