Stolen directly from activist Joe Scarry’s Scarry Thoughts blog.
Part of the campaign among U.S. elites to soft-peddle the failure of U.S. warmaking in Afghanistan in general and the latest Obama/NATO “solution” for Afghanistan in particular — which I’ve been discussing for weeks – is a paper from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) calledTime to Focus on “Afghan Good Enough”.
The whole “Afghan good enough” concept was discussed in the New York Times on Friday, May 18: U.S. Redefines Afghan Success Before Conference. The basic idea seems to be, “We’ve failed miserably at forcing Afghanistan do what we want it to do. It can’t possibly be that we and our methods are flawed. It must be because Afghanistan is a fundamentally f*cked up place, and so let’s not get down on ourselves as we walk out on the mess we’ve made.”
The CSIS paper is carefully couched in technocrat-speak, in order, I suppose, to cushion the blow that it delivers at the end: “Pursuing today’s ‘strategy’ and illusions offers almost no hope at all.” Admonitions such as “Local Forces and ‘Warlords’ Are Better Than Nothing” and “Rely on Direct Support of the Competent and Effective Elements of Afghan Governance in the Field” are just another way of saying the U.S./NATO had no business expecting that it could make things run in a particular way in Afghanistan through use of force.
The problem with “Afghan good enough” is that it doesn’t recognize that “a militarized Afghanistan is NOT good enough.” The gaping hole in the CSIS paper is that it doesn’t address the legacy of militarization that the U.S./NATO have put in place in Afghanistan, and that must be reversed. When it says,
Creating an Affordable Afghan Army Beginning Now: One key will be to give real meaning to the effort to reshape Afghan forces as a much smaller and more affordable force, and to do so as soon as possible, rather than building up to a 352,000-man hollow force and rushing down to 230,000. This means a force that can credibly be funded with the money that could actually come rather than relying on promises. It means focusing on the army, knowing that much of the police will remain ineffective or corrupt. It means securing the Afghan government where it is now effective, rather than trying to expand it into vulnerable ink spots than can easily be overrun once U.S. and ISAF forces leave. It also means creating plans for the size of Afghan forces that trainers and partners can credibly sustain, providing more than mere pledges and hopes.
… it leaves the way wide open for the usual set of solutions that have been set in train in Afghanistan: drones killings, thousands of detainees, School of the Americas-style training regime, contractors, and more.
It’s time to DEMILITARIZE Afghanistan. Only that will be “good enough.”
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Image from The New Yorker, Is Obama Really Done with Afghanistan? by Amy Davidson. “After a hundred visions and revisions, have there finally been decisions on Afghanistan? And is there time for more before the Presidential election in November? And, depending on whether Obama wins or loses, how reversible might those be?”