To concur with Foust’s most recent post, the outlook for Afghanistan is grim. The surge, unfortunately, did not work as it was supposed to, and partnership efforts are a bloody mess. According to Gilles Dorronsoro’s recent paper, Waiting for the Taliban in Afghanistan (well worth a read), “The Afghanistan regime will most probably collapse in a few years.” It does not get much clearer than that. Former General Barno’s comments in Foreign Policy recently indicate that the American administration might be considering Afghanistan lost as well; if the government in Kabul will not be able to secure the country in any meaningful way past 2014, and the voters won’t consider a larger troop presence or a mission-extension, why not push for an accelerated withdrawal? Most of the major ISAF troop-contributing nations have talked openly of early withdrawal, and the American (voting) public isn’t keen on prolonging their troop presence in Afghanistan, either.
As Dorronsoro states, “Resolving security challenges [in Afghanistan] will require a coherent regional policy that involves harmonizing the U.S. approach to the three main players— Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India.” Simply put, that is the job of diplomats and politicians, not combat forces. Unless or until that approach, and U.S. and ISAF goals in Afghanistan, can be deconflicted and clearly articulated, perhaps it is best to consider an accelerated withdrawal. Thoughts?