NEW ARTICLE: TX Hammes article in Foreign Policy "AfPak's Strategic Blinders"
"AfPak's Strategic Blinders" in Foreign Policy
by T.X. Hammes
One month after the Obama administration's strategic review of the Afghan war, it's become clear that there's little willingness to change what increasingly looks like a failure in the making.
As the past year came to a close, most commentators were pessimistic in their assessments of security in Afghanistan. A typical take came from Nic Lee, director of the Afghanistan NGO Safety Office, an independent group that analyzes security risks for aid organizations: "Absolutely, without any reservation, it is our opinion that the situation is a lot more insecure this year than it was last year."
But the analysts who mattered most -- those who were working on the Obama administration's review of the Afghan war -- had a very different view. The final report summary made public on Dec. 16 declared that NATO forces in Afghanistan have been succeeding in their mission and will continue to execute their current plan. Vice President Joseph Biden's sudden visit to Afghanistan this week serves to reinforce that decision.
While acknowledging that the gains were fragile and reversible, the report did not recognize that the plan depends heavily on military and political conditions that are quickly losing all credibility. A successful strategy would begin by acknowledging, rather than ignoring, all the uncertainties at the root of the current mission of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
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