August 07, 2009

Maybe Bacevich Has a Point: Introducing the Afghanistan Strategy Dialogue

Dear Readers,

Upon returning from Afghanistan, one of the things I have noticed is how quickly support for the war in Afghanistan has diminished in the United States (especially in progressive circles) and the frustrations of those who feel we are prosecuting a war into its ninth year without debating whether or not the war is in U.S. interests.

Traditionally, this blog – like its author – has focused on counterinsurgency operations and tactics without getting involved too much in either policy or strategy. Many critics of this blog – and, indeed, some of the readership – have contended that it is at best irresponsible and at worst immoral to be talking about operations and tactics independent of the larger strategic issues. Point taken.

Today, I am starting an experiment at Abu Muqawama that will hopefully provide an intelligent forum in which readers of this blog can debate the key question concerning the war in Afghanistan. I invite the readers, then, to submit their answers to the following questions:

Is the war in Afghanistan in the interests of the United States and its allies? If so, at what point do the resources we are expending become too high a cost to bear? What are the strategic limitations of U.S. counterinsurgency doctrine and operations? And if the war is not in the interests of the United States and its allies, what are U.S. and allied interests in Central Asia – and how do you propose to secure them?

The only two of the above questions that you must answer are the first and, depending on your answer to the first, the last. (I will publish no "COIN is stupid" or "I hated The Gamble" emails. If you don't like the current direction in which we are heading, you must propose an alternative.) Each day for the next few weeks, I will publish a new and intelligent answer to those questions. Readers are invited to send their submissions to Keep in mind, please, that this is a blog. Entries of over 600 words will not be published. (I know that is terribly short. Welcome to my life.) The goal here is to publish a thought-provoking entry each day that gets things going in the comments section.

Again, this blog was never intended to debate the grand strategic and political issues at stake in Iraq and Afghanistan. But if the readers of this blog feel that I have been ducking my responsibility to discuss the political and strategic dimensions of these campaigns, then maybe we, uh, should.


Abu Muqawama