Sunday, August 2, 2009

Bad Weekend/Month for NATO

July set some records for numbers of Allied deaths in Afghanistan, and this weekend was a bad one. I had expected this and was even caught on tape being correct for a change simply because more Americans in Afghanistan was going to lead to more contact, more convoys, etc.

After I read The Gamble, I realized that we have seen this before. We forget that the first months of the Surge were the worst months of the entire war. The additional troops not only meant more contact but also more faithful implementation of counter-insurgency strategies and tactics: smaller units extended further and then living amongst the population, less use of force, etc.

Of course, it may be the case that more violence may be the result of better strategies by the Taliban. And so, this might not be a temporary spike in violence, but part of a larger decline. While we should not underestimate the Taliban, I do think that the timing of the violence suggests that it is more about the influx of Americans.

And, also, of course, the military side is only part of the puzzle. The Presidential election in Afghanistan is very important. Karzai thus far not yet been seriously challenged but still has taken political positions that undermine the international community. Stay tuned.

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