Small Wars Journal

A Fresh Take on Afghanistan

A Fresh Take on Afghanistan - Malou Innocent, Wall Street Journal opinion

When he takes office today, Barack Obama will inherit a situation in Afghanistan that is growing increasingly complex. Mr. Obama has made success in the war there a key element of his foreign policy, so it's important for the new administration to understand the current facts on the ground. American policy there is due for a rethink.

Since 2007, the war in Afghanistan has undergone a dramatic shift, from large-scale attacks to more asymmetric terrorist assaults and roadside ambushes. Pro-Taliban militants attack those perceived to be in support of the Afghan government -- namely, US and North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces and humanitarian aid workers. The Taliban's aim is not direct confrontation, but rather a protracted war of attrition that will gradually expand their political and economic influence. Defeating the spreading Islamist insurgency depends on the coalition's commitment to increase the Afghan government's ability to improve security, deliver basic services and expand development for economic opportunity.

But the biggest challenge here will be to reconcile the imbalance between what Afghanistan is - a complex tapestry of traditional tribal structures - and what we want it to be - a burgeoning nation-state governed centrally from Kabul. Containing the insurgency will require working with local leaders to ferret out militants...

More at The Wall Street Journal.

H/T Dave Maxwell.