"Support for the proposed influx of troops to Afghanistan, however, comes as Americans are about evenly divided about whether the war there has proved to be worth its costs. They also split 50 to 41 percent on whether it is essential to win in Afghanistan to succeed in broader efforts against terrorism.
Nearly four in 10 who said the war has not justified its costs back the new troops, signaling that some people may expect better results after the troop levels rise. (Among Democrats, that number is closer to 50 percent.) While most Americans opposed Bush's early 2007 decision to send additional troops to Iraq, the percentage who saw significant progress there trended sharply higher from the summer of 2007 through the end of last year." Washpost
Kilcullen's graphic (above) on the elements of insurgency is interesting and instructive. He attempts in that "mess" to show how complicated this kind of warfare may be. Imagine how much more complicated are the efforts necessary to counteract all of that. Those efforts collectively make up what is call "counterinsurgency." (COIN)
I did COIN. I did it in South America. I did it in SE Asia. I did it in Arabia. I did it.
It works. It worked in Iraq. It has been very expensive in Iraq, expensive in money, expensive in political capital, and very expensive in blood if some of that is yours.
Was it necessary to do COIN in Iraq? Yes. It was. The ground was ripe in Iraq for irregular warfare against the US occupation. The "human terrain" was perfect for it. The illusions that accompanied the occupation made the US occupying force a perfect target for irregular warfare. Having made so many mistakes in Iraq, COIN was the only method that would bring the US success in Iraq other than mass murder. The Republican and neocon slogan word "Surge" is just code for COIN. The additional US troops were just part of that COIN effort.
Afghanistan is another place where COIN can work. The ground in Afghanistan is even more fertile for long term irregular warfare against the foreign other than was Iraq. Irregular warfare in Afghanistan is an age-old way of life. In Afghanistan, the people in the next valley are often one's tribal enemy.
Nevertheless, COIN can work in Afghanistan. The question is not if COIN will work in Afghanistan. The question is whether or not we should pay the exorbitant price that COIN will exact from us for the privilegege of using this methodology in that country.
Ten years? 150 billion dollars? 5,000 dead (ours)? What will the cost be? Do I know? No. Neither does anyone else, but everyone who knows anything knows that it will be very expensive.
There are other ways to accomplish the goal of "neutering" Islamist extremists. I, and other people have suggested them. None of them involve becoming Afghanistan's "godfather." pl