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In Afghanistan, Real Leverage Starts with More Troops - Frederick W. Kagan and Kimberly Kagan, Washington Post opinion.
The president will soon announce the deployment of additional US forces to Afghanistan, in a speech likely to emphasize the importance of political progress there. Legitimacy is the most important outcome of a counterinsurgency strategy, not, as some have suggested, an input. It is unfortunate that much of the debate has ignored the role that additional military forces can play in building legitimacy and effective government in a counterinsurgency. Adding forces gives us leverage; military forces are vital to the success of any political strategy because they contribute directly to improving governance as well as to improving security.
The recent American experience in Iraq illustrates how US forces and diplomacy helped correct the behaviors of a sometimes malign government in ways that helped neutralize insurgent groups. In early 2007, many Iraqi leaders were using instruments of state to support sectarian death squads. The dysfunctional government could not secure the population, pass laws or provide services to its people. The implementation of a fully resourced counterinsurgency strategy - enabled by the deployment of nearly six additional US combat brigades - transformed Iraq's government within 18 months. Opponents of the surge argued that Iraqis would "step up" politically and militarily only if they knew that US forces would leave. Instead, before committing to the fight, political leaders and populations throughout Iraq assessed whether US forces would stay long enough to secure them. Iraqis stepped up precisely because of the absence of conditionality and time limits on US force levels...
More at The Washington Post.