NIGHTWATCH: Afghanistan Lost, Syria Holding

Cultural Intelligence, Government, Military

Afghanistan: Comment: On the 16th, US and NATO officials praised the Afghan commandos for leading the counterattack against the small group of anti-government fighters who assaulted Kabul on Sunday. However, some seemed to undermine the significance of the Afghan achievement by minimizing the significance of the assault itself, calling it the last gasp of the anti-government forces. Evidently, the Afghans fought well against a weak force and the sensational set of attacks actually signifies an improving security situation. Hmmm.

Thus, Readers might be confused on the 17th by multiple press services reports that the NATO command plans a large offensive to improve security in Kabul in May.

NightWatch has written that violent instability is centripetal. It moves from the border marches and other peripheries to the center of power, the capital. Victory for the anti-government forces means seizing and holding the capital. Victory for the government forces means holding a secure center and expanding a secure perimeter outward to the national borders.

A government that cannot maintain a secure center of power, the capital, cannot survive. It does not matter whether it falls to the Taliban or the Haqqanis. It will fall. Thus, attacks in the capital are always signs of weakness at the center. The only question is how weak.

For example, the Syrian government understands this phenomenology, which is why there have been less than a handful of attacks in Damascus during a year of violent instability. Damascus has experienced no 18-hour battles. The occasional attacks do not signify significant weakness. The Syrian center is holding.

Syria is not Afghanistan and the two fights are quite different, but the importance of security at the center is the same. This week's outbreak of fighting in Kabul means one thing: Kabul is not secure even with NATO forces. If the center is not secure, nowhere else matters.


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