July 12, 2009

Catching up...

...with some weekend reading:

--The Marines try to do some counterinsurgency in Helmand, but still without any help from Afghan forces.  I'm increasingly pessimistic about Afghanistan, and the inability of the ANA to rally (despite previous assertions that they're supposed to be fairly competent) is a big reason why.  The situation reminds of a comment made by an officer I interviewed about Iraq in early 2007: "How do you convince someone to fight for their country?"  In that light, it's somewhat troubling that the U.S. focus is on expanding the Afghan forces when we can't seem to get many of the existing ones into the fight.  Or do the Afghans have a different strategy than the Americans do?

--Robert McNamara passed away this week, and Bradley Graham, author of this hefty tome, wonders whether we'll see a mea culpa from Rumsfeld on Iraq in same way McNamara admitted his failings in the Vietnam War.  There's certainly no indication that Rumsfeld is pondering what happened in Iraq; it's hard to see him becoming a tragic, McNamara-like figure haunted by his past decisions.  But I agree with Graham's punchline: "More important than hearing Rumsfeld say he's sorry for what he did may be getting a frank explanation of why he did it."

--Is this China's chief counterinsurgent?