(Greg Djerejian is a financial services professional and publishes the popular blog The Belgravia Dispatch)
I agree with almost everything Peter writes below (particularly his “second” mistake, the clever subtlety he flags in his “third mistake”, and then too his last paragraph-to which I’d add the need to effectively engage with Syria too).
A small quibble however. I’m not sure that Zbig Brzezinski’s statement that “We are running the risk of repeating the mistake the Soviet Union made… Our strategy is getting in deeper and deeper” means he (or I) are grotesquely misreading history. No one is saying we are employing a brutish, ham-handed Soviet approach to the Afghan campaign. The question is still legitimate (no one on this email list seems to want to take it on, and so we risk missing the forest for the trees on the ‘military’ prong of the second prompt) whether multi-year (or even possibly decades long) nation building efforts in each of Iraq or Afghanistan are ultimately beneficial to the U.S. national interest, or the GWOT (an increasingly silly phrase, in my view), or whatever supposed strategic objective we are pursuing in the region. I think this is what Brzezinski is really probing around, keeping in mind too Afghan’s historic aversion to foreign interlopers and their perhaps less than universal alacrity to comply with the democratic diktats emitting from the soi disant wholly enlightened Karzai government.
I’ve beaten the horse dead already, so won’t go on, save to say I have spotted Peter of late on CNN agreeing with the consensus view more troops are needed in Afghanistan, although he says they must be the “right” kind of troops. While I certainly agree with him that National Guardsman from Alabama don’t fit the bill, we alas don’t really have a teeming Colonial Corps deeply schooled in the ways of the Pashtun at the ready, and I’d like to suggest that before we as a nation (and indeed NATO Alliance, or which many of the members are already highly skeptical of this mission) sign off on deepening our presence in Afghanistan — even with the best of whatever counter-insurgency specialists we have available — we should at least accompany this clarion call with a mission statement to warrant same. Ideally, a highly convincing one, of which I’ve not yet seen or heard, though others may disagree. Peter allows below that:
…our policies in Afghanistan are failing and require a complete rethink.
Perhaps if his schedule permits he can share with us more about how and why in this forum so that we might fall into informed discussion re: better going forward options. Given he’s spent much time in theater it would doubtless be a highly valuable contribution to our discussions.
— Greg Djerejian
This week long terrorism salon will continue to be hosted by The Washington Note and UN Dispatch.