Small Wars Journal


Will the U.S. Win in Afghanistan?

Wed, 04/04/2012 - 10:16pm

The Atlantic asks a number of pundits if the U.S. will win in Afghanistan.  More specifically:

"The Obama administration's stated objectives in Afghanistan are to deny al-Qaeda a safe haven, prevent the Taliban from overthrowing the government, and build up Afghan security forces in order to transition U.S. combat forces out of the country by 2014. Based on the current strategy, do you think that the Obama administration will achieve its goals?" 

Admittedly, I'm cherry-picking some of the statements, but you can read their full context at the original article.:

Andrew Exum

I believe Afghanistan may be a case in which the president's policy will succeed but not the strategic goals associated with that policy. 

Jamie M. Fly

If the war is lost, it will be lost in Washington, not on the battlefield. Our men and women in uniform can succeed, but only if they are given the resources and time to do so.

Gian Gentile

That botched strategy has sought to achieve very limited policy aims--the reduction of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan--with a maximalist operational method of armed nation building. It represents the death of good American strategy and a waste of good American blood and treasure.

Candace Rondeaux

The Taliban are unlikely to overthrow the Afghan government wholesale but they don't have to for the White House strategy to fail--it already has.

Al Qaeda in its Third Decade

Thu, 03/01/2012 - 8:18pm

A new RAND occasional paper by Brian Michael Jenkins takes a look at Al Qaeda and what it means to different people. Note - you can click on the read online link to download a free PDF version.

More than ten years after 9/11, there is still remarkable lack of consensus among analysts' assessments of al Qaeda's current condition and future capabilities. Almost every issue is debated: Whether America has won the operational battle but lost the ideological contest; whether homegrown terrorism is a growing threat; whether maintaining American troops in Afghanistan is essential; whether the United States ought to declare on its own an end to the war on al Qaeda. Part of the debate is driven by political agendas, but the arguments derive from the fact that al Qaeda is many things at once and must be viewed in all of its various dimensions. This essay examines a number of these issues in light of recent developments — the death of Osama bin Laden, the Arab Spring, and the American withdrawal from Iraq. In each case, it drives toward a bottom line. In the final analysis, it is a personal view.