What is state failure? See my conceptualisation of state failure on the right flank below.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The difficult part

Russia and Central Asia are likely to gradually open up to ISAF supplies to Afghanistan (more ISAF countries, more cargo, looser regime, so on). The US is sending a good number of troops to Afghanistan this season, and some European countries, more or less reluctantly, will also add troops of their own. Call it a surge if you will.

More troops, better logistics. Mission (to be) accomplished?

This is the difficult part, however, nicely summed up in the opening part of a comment over at Registan:
"NATO and the US put in more troops, which will total to less than half the highest amount the Soviets ever had there.
We still will not really control the territory that we want to, and rural Afghans will continue to rely on the mujahids to give them a rudimentary system of rule that doesn’t run counter to their cultural values as much as the West’s.
The mujahidin groups win a huge propaganda victory when the US and NATO are just as unsuccessful at controlling the place with twice the troops."
That is why I found myself making the point to someone, recently, that the current increases in troop levels are still but indications of a creeping commitment, the dynamics of which hold inherent political risks.

Dexter Filkins indirectly argues with that point right there, however, in his dispatch from the south, where at one point he says there is going to be a COIN-doctrine-conforming number of troops in the south as a result of this year's additions (according to a certain, not-fully-specified way of doing the math area-specifically). I think the additions will certainly restructure the Taliban's presence. But those additions won't structure them out, even with the enhanced mobility coming with the better built-up presence of ISAF's own.

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