Remember earlier this year, when I wrote this?
Despite such a rich history of failure, one still finds a common idea in the testimonies, strategy papers and briefings of the policymakers in charge of America’s Afghanistan strategy: Afghanistan is a “tribal society”, and the exploitation of those tribal ties is the key to fighting the insurgency. Practically every pundit, soldier and official repeats this as an article of faith, to the point where it has strayed into tautology. Because the Taliban is Pashtun, and because Pashtuns are tribal, we therefore must understand the tribes to defeat the Taliban.
It is one of the most frustrating assertions about Afghanistan, directly contradicted by decades of academic research.
And so on. Anyway, so the U.S. has decided it’s going to use the Alikozai tribe to defeat the Taliban in Sangin—if we can convince them we won’t hang them out to dry (and assuming there’s enough of a unified command structure across different Alikozai communities for the idea to mean anything). There are so many things wrong with this plan, but no joke I’ve been arguing against those very things for, oh, three years now (including from within the Army as an actual Cultural Advisor). It’s obvious no one at the decision-making level is interested in listening. So I’m not sure ranting and wailing is really worth it at this point.
Anyway, it’s a really dumb idea.