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Agora

Agora

COIN Strategy vs. COIN Tactics

By Andrew Lubin | Published: August 26, 2010

The photo in Laura King’s Los Angeles Times article ‘Three cups of tea’ a byword for U.S. effort to win Afghan hearts and minds” shows why the war in Afghanistan is not going well for the United States.

As Ms. King so aptly explains, the phrase “three cups of tea” has been adapted from the Greg Mortenson best-seller of the same name by the American military as the basis of how to conduct a counterinsurgency campaign. (more…)

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Agora

Agora

Karzai’s Counterinsurgency Strategy

By Mac McCallister | Published: June 16, 2010

Marc Ambinder, politics editor of The Atlantic, explains that there exists a general perception among theorists and policy planners in the Pentagon’s policy shop that General McChrystal’s counterinsurgency strategy has failed to sustain Hamid Karzai’s government in critical areas and is therefore destined to ultimately fail.

“This is not how the war is supposed to be going. . .”

So, why isn’t the war going as planned? Maybe we should assess the counterinsurgency effort from President Karzai’s perspective and focus less on our Americo-centric point of view.

What is President Karzai’s counterinsurgency strategy?

President Karzai’s “clear-hold-build-consolidate” approach to counterinsurgency is mostly political. Politics in counterinsurgency is about the distribution of power and political strategy all about influencing the will and actions of both your allies and adversaries.

Afghanistan is a place where you fear your friends as much as you fear your enemies. (more…)

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Agora

Agora

Little Governors

By Mac McCallister | Published: June 4, 2010

Two recent articles in the Washington Post and Time magazine describe the political realities faced by the U.S. military, when participating in local politics in Nangahar province, in eastern Afghanistan. Both articles go to great length to describe what many would perceive to be another example of a failed local engagement strategy—and both articles fail to shed light on the grassroots political dynamics in play.

According to both, in late January, select elders of the Shinwari, a Pashtun tribe in eastern Nangarhar province, approached U.S. military officials and offered to confront militants operating in their territory. They would also punish anyone who cooperated with the militants. In response, U.S. military officials decided that they would allow the leaders of those fighting the militants to help decide how the approximately $1 million in U.S.–funded development projects would be spent. (more…)

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