Small Wars Journal

The Real Pivot

The Real Pivot by Lieutenant General David W. Barno, USA (Ret.), Foreign Policy.

Last week marked a major inflection point in the war in Afghanistan. NATO decided to suspend joint operations with Afghan forces below the battalion level, while the last of the 30,000 U.S. "surge" troops returned home. After eleven years of conflict, the United States and its allies now stand at a fork in the road. They can continue to press ahead with an increasingly risky advisory effort, where the remaining 68,000 U.S. troops would continue widespread partnering with Afghan forces. Or they can start shifting now to a much-reduced military effort aimed at supporting the Afghan military in combat differently while protecting broader U.S. interests with smaller counter-terror forces...


Bill C.

Wed, 09/26/2012 - 10:25pm

Last paragraph of this article:

"Yet eleven years on, the United States now finds itself at war with the Taliban, a local insurgency with no discerable global objectives."

When looking at United States involvement -- in Afghanistan and elsewhere throughout the world -- one needs to look less at the objectives of the local players (for example, the Taliban) and more at the objectives of the United States and its allies.

Herein, post the Cold War, our nation and its allies have been clear re: (1) their determination to expand their access and influence into previously denied areas and (2) their determination to brook few limitations on or denial of same.

Should entities such as the Taliban come to (or return to) power, then it is believed that these such entities would act to limit or deny the full and complete access to their states and societies that the United States and its allies desire.

Thus, not so much the global objectives of the Taliban et al (or, as Gen. Barno rightfully points out, their complete lack thereof) but, rather, how the parochial interests of these local players (ex: isolationism, exclusiveness, etc.) would tend to stand in the way of the global expansionist/integration objectives of the winners of the Cold War.