An Absence of Strategic Thinking

An Absence of Strategic Thinking

by Paul Yingling

Foreign Affairs

Those advocating a program of counterinsurgency in 2009 behaved as if these events either did not happen or did not matter. But a decade’s worth of blunders and misrepresentations has exhausted the patience of the American people. For nearly ten years, U.S. officials insisted that their Afghan policy was succeeding. They did not ask the public to fight the war or to pay for it, and they failed to reveal the deterioration in security on both sides of the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Revelations began to emerge around the time that the global economy collapsed in 2008. In the aftermath of the financial crisis, the economy is the top national concern. Devoting the hundreds of billions of dollars required by a counterinsurgency campaign into an open-ended conflict in Afghanistan would have been difficult even in 2001. By 2009, such a policy became impossible.

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