In the best spirit of counter-insurgency, I am going to kick a particular can down the road. Rather than posting about the excerpts from the new hot book on Afghanistan by, I am going to wait to read the entire thing, and then probably produce an epic blogpost. The book is triggering much interest because it has reported interesting infighting in DC (no surprise), inter-service rivalry in Afghanistan (no surprise), and alliance tensions (no surprise).
The book will, if I am correct, do an excellent job of illustrating all of the dysfunctions that folks who have followed the war are pretty familiar with. Chandrasekaran's previous book, Imperial Life in an Emerald City, was infuriating because it made abundantly clear how bad the Iraq occupation was managed. This new book will probably show smarter and better trained people making mistakes and having a lot of conflict.
The only thing I really want to say now is that the framing is a bit off. If Holbrooke was completely empowered by the Obama White House, he still would not have been able to make a deal with the Taliban. Bosnia 1995 and Af-Pak 2009 are two different contexts with Serbia and Croatia ready for peace. Was Pakistan ready in 2009? Was the Taliban? What kind of deal would they have not only been willing to sign but actually to observe? Thus far, the Taliban record for keeping deals is pretty meager.
Anyhow, that is enough for now--I will read the book in July and post my reactions to the entire thing. I am sure that I will be appalled.
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