Fellow AI editor and blogger Adam Garfinkle has long been critical of the Obama Administration’s policies in Libya and Syria, and he recently offered some sage advice for policymakers working on Afghanistan: Look before you leap. His advice does not paint a pretty picture for the future of Afghanistan.
[T]he entire enterprise of responsible U.S. and allied withdrawal depends on the fiction that the Afghan National Army and police are capable of defending the regime in Kabul from its enemies. (And it is a fiction—see the September/October 2011 TAI essay by Alim Remtullah if you really want to understand why.) . . .The only problem with how Obama has played the game thus far is that he’s now ceded the initiative to a select group of top Taliban commanders. He has to hope that his decent interval lasts at least until early November. Since we’re not withdrawing beyond a point of no return until after the election, this hope can be backed by combat force if need be. But if the appearance of a responsible and orderly withdrawal is foiled by aggressive and successful Taliban tactics this summer and into the fall—or if the Karzai regime implodes for any number of imaginable reasons—then the President is going to have a real problem on his hands. With just a little luck, these guys could drain the pool while the Administration is in mid-swan dive.
Read the whole thing. Garfinkle details what seems to be a lack of careful, long-term strategic thinking among our current Middle East policymakers. Once upon a time, he writes, strategists and statesmen tried to anticipate several moves ahead of their rivals, as in chess. Today, “Barack Obama may indeed be playing a kind of chess, but it’s a match that seems to me to have only a little to do with U.S. foreign policy and national security concerns.”