"If the Afghan government were fully legitimate, there would be no insurgency. U.S. and international actions must aim to improve the Afghan government's ability to provide basic services such as security and dispute resolution nationwide, building the legitimacy of the government in Kabul sufficiently to dampen a large-scale insurgency. They must persuade and even compel Afghan leaders to stop activities that alienate the people and create fertile ground for insurgents. " The Kagans
What does the first sentence mean? Does it mean that if all the Afghans accepted the Karzai government, then the war would not be. Is that supposed to be profound? Let's see, on that basis, if all the Apache bands had accepted the territorial government of Arizona in the 1870s and 1880s, there would have been no fighting between whites and Indians… That is probably true.
The second sentence says that we must make the Karzai government a better government so that it will be "legitimate" in the sense of the first sentence. That implies a massive effort to produce those changes. CORDS, the COIN operation in Vietnam had 10,000 people involved in doing exactly what the Kagans suggest will be necessary. How many people do we have in Afghanistan today doing this sort of advisory work in all the aspects of Afghan governnance? How many will we recruit, train, pay, sustain, replace? In the CORDS effort the families of the advisers were moved to nearby third countries like the Phillippines or Thailand in order to be able to commit the advisers "in country" for several years. Are we going to do that?
The third sentence says that we must be prepared to use whatever means necessary to "compel" Afghan government to be what the Kagans believe would suffice to insure "legitimacy." What will we do if they fail to obey us?
To make any of this feasible a great many friendly troops must be available to "protect the people" so that good governance can move their sentiments in the direction of granting "legitimacy" to the government.
There are a lot of village and towns in Afghanistan, even if one only considers Pushtun villages. The active army is stretched pretty thin. The suicide and attempted suicide rate is becoming a serious matter. People with families can not be pushed emotionally beyond a certain level of alienation from home and hearth. Perhaps it was not such a good idea to build the force around middle class married soldiers.
If President Obama is going to accept the opinions of the Kagans and their four star pupils, then McChrystal should be given all the troops he asks for in this trenche and the next ones as well. Some consideration of a revival of the draft should also be done and a start made on recruiting, etc. for a really large body of qualified advisers. pl