Joe Klein: We're Losing in Afghanistan

Howdy. I am on deadline, writing a piece that involves our current war in Afghanistan. So apologies for the low blog pace. But it means I’ve been k keeping an eye on what all the folks in media land are saying about that par particular conflict.

Here’s Time’s Joe Klein, following up on his cover story a few weeks back, saying things ain’t going well.

The adage is: if you’re not winning against a guerrilla insurgency, you’re losing. We’re not winning in Afghanistan… I must admit, again, I’m mystified about where this effort goes from here. Nothing I’ve heard from the U.S. military or other elements of our government leads me to believe we’re on the right track here. Indeed, it raises serious questions about the use of counterinsurgency tactics in a situation where there is no credible partner–and especially in a situation (unlike Iraq) where the insurgents are neighbors, not foreigners.

Klein is the second big foot type pundit to turn on the war in the past month. The other, David Ignatius at the Washington Post, recently wrote that “the underlying anxiety on both sides that the feasibility of the U.S. strategy for this war has yet to be proved.” (Ignatius criticisms are much milder than Klein’s. But, Ignatius can usually be counted on to cheer on these kinds of military adventures, as he had advised to Obama last fall to “roll the dice on Afghanistan.”)


About michaelhastings

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2 Responses to Joe Klein: We're Losing in Afghanistan

  1. Roy Brander says:

    The news here is that much-read journalists are coming to this conclusion? Because a whole lot of serious writers were never in any doubt, once the momentum was lost years ago and it became a fairly familiar guerilla war.

    “By May 1928 the basic principles of guerilla warfare … had already been evolved; that is, the 16-character formula: The enemy advances, we retreat; the enemy camps, we harass; the enemy tires, we attack; the enemy retreats, we pursue.”
    Mao Zedong, 1936″

    …I’m cribbing from a column by Dr. Gwynne Dyer, who’s been in journalism since the 70’s after a stint as lecturer at Sandhurst.

    There’s some glitch at his web site today, but his columns can be googled up at the Winnipeg Free Press. His glum concluding paragraph:

    “This is just another post-imperial guerilla war, and it will almost certainly end in the same way as all the others. Thirty years ago, any western military officer could have told you that, but large organizations often forget their own history.”

    Mike, what are the chances of escape via the more important part of the Iraqi “surge”: hiring the enemy to, if not fight much for you, at least stop shooting at you?

    • Michael Hastings says:

      Roy, thanks for the comment. Yes, by the standards of Beltway group think, when a guy like Klein comes out against the war, it is news. I like Dyer–was on a panel discussion with him once–and his observations are usually pretty spot on.

      Hopefully the ‘Surge’ type payoffs will prove workable–but remember with the Awakening, the Sunni insurgents who became our allies did so because it was in their interest to–they were getting sick of Al Qaeda, and they could make money off us. I’m not sure a similar incentive structure exists in Afghanistan.

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