Small Wars Journal

The Flawed U.S. Approach to Afghanistan

Fri, 05/03/2019 - 12:10am

The Flawed U.S. Approach to Afghanistan by Scott DesMarais - Institute for the Study of War

The U.S. will likely fail to secure its national security interests with its current strategy in Afghanistan. The U.S. since 9/11 has sought to deny Afghanistan as a safe haven for Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, and that goal remains paramount even today. The U.S. incorrectly believes it can facilitate a legitimate dialogue that leads to a stable political settlement, reconciles the Taliban, and empowers the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) to defeat terrorist groups in Afghanistan. The U.S will struggle to facilitate this dialogue because the reconciliation of former militants is likely to accelerate political competition between multiple factions. Increased political competition between the Taliban and established Afghan powerbrokers could cause negotiations to collapse and risk an ethnically charged civil war. Further, the Afghan Government and the Taliban even if reconciled may prove unwilling and unable to fight together to prevent the growth of Al Qaeda, ISIS, and affiliated terrorist groups in Afghanistan. The U.S. must change its policy to account for the complexity of the reconciliation process and to prepare for these predictable future security and political challenges

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