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Afghanistan and 'The Other Enemy'

In the Armed Forces Journal, friend Ralph Peters writes an important piece on The other enemy in Afghanistan. It opens as it remains and concludes: cogent, direct, hard hitting and on the money.

Can we win in Afghanistan? It’s an odd question, considering that we’ve already won, by historical standards. Yet unrealistic metrics of success continue to pile up, fabricated in ignorance — often willful and even spiteful — of Afghan reality. Political partisans intent on scoring points and media figures desperate for headlines demand the impossible (and not only in Afghanistan.) Increasingly, the greatest obstacle to success in trouble spots where our troops are engaged is our own unwillingness to accept that wars never yield perfect results and rarely yield permanent change.

Unaware of historical precedent and dismissing practical limitations, we increasingly insist on ideal transformations of broken states and regions where reasonable progress is the only fair measure of success. Staying with the Afghan example, a sensible assessment of the possible begins with the recognition that no such country exists or ever has in the sense of statehood familiar to us. The vast clots of miserable territory we label “Afghanistan” (maps, like nature, abhor a vacuum) really consist of the city-state of Kabul, tributary cities along timeless caravan routes and tribal areas that Alexander, the Mongols or any other conqueror, shah or king never fully controlled.

It's another bit of required reading - and associated thinking on the part of the reader - from Ralph. Be sure to read it all.

(With thanks to Small Wars Journal's 4 June SWJ News, Op-Ed, Blog, and Events Roundup for this and many other references every day. If it's not already on your feed or daily visit list, it should be.)