Chuck Spinney: The Afgan Misadventure in One Paragraph

03 Economy, 04 Inter-State Conflict, 05 Civil War, 07 Other Atrocities, 08 Wild Cards, 10 Security, 11 Society, Budgets & Funding, Corruption, Cultural Intelligence, Government, IO Deeds of War, IO Impotency, Military, Officers Call, Power Behind-the-Scenes/Special Interests, Secrecy & Politics of Secrecy, Strategy, Waste (materials, food, etc)
Chuck Spinney

First, the paragraph:

“The enterprise has proved to be a model of how not to go about such things, breaking all the rules of grand strategy: getting in without having any idea of how to get out; almost wilful misdiagnosis of the challenges; changing objectives, and no coherent or consistent plan; mission creep on an heroic scale; disunity of political and military command, also on an heroic scale; diversion of attention and resources [to Iraq] at a critical stage in the adventure; poor choice of local allies, who rapidly became more of a problem than a solution; unwillingness to co-opt the neighbours into the project, and thus address the mission-critical problem of external sanctuary and support; military advice, long on institutional self-interest, but woefully short on serious objective analysis of the problems of pacifying a broken country with largely non-existent institutions of government and security; weak political leadership, notably in subjecting to proper scrutiny militarily heavy approaches, and in explaining to the increasingly, and now decisively, sceptical domestic press and public the benefits of expending so much treasure and blood.”

Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles
British ambassador in Kabul and as special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan

The Afghan misadventure

By Lionel Barber, Financial Times, 22/07/11

Phi Beta Iota:  A full reading of “The Afghan misadventure” by Lionel Barber is highly recommended.  The ends with several lessons not understood in Washington, and a marvelous description of NATO as a “tethered goat.”  He also recommends these three books:

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Cables From Kabul: The Inside Story of the West’s Afghanistan Campaign, by Sherard Cowper-Coles, Harper Press, 352 pages

The Wars of Afghanistan: Messianic Terrorism, Tribal Conflicts and the Failures of Great Powers, by Peter Tomsen, PublicAffairs, 912 pages

Dead Men Risen: The Welsh Guards and the Real Story of Britain’s War in Afghanistan, by Toby Harnden, Quercus, 640 pages

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