June 12, 2011


1. I will be participating in two events tomorrow on reconciliation in Afghanistan. I am not really a specialist on the subject as it pertains to Afghanistan when compared with others, but I will discuss reconciliation efforts in terms of civil wars in general and will offer comment on how operations in Afghanistan may or may not be setting the conditions for what we have come to expect based on historical experience. The first event, hosted by the Institute for Inclusive Security, will be held at the National Press Club and will feature me along with David Kilcullen, Rangina Hamidi, and Wazhma Frogh Mohammad Yonus. The great Elizabeth Rubin will moderate. Details here (.pdf). (Also, the event will be televised on PBS at some point.)

The second event will be at the U.S. Institute of Peace. Hamish Nixon and Andrew Wilder asked me to participate in an event with Ali Jalali, Michael Semple, Bill Taylor, Ashley Tellis and other smart people. Details here. (I suspect we'll spend much time talking about Hamish's new paper, which I read last week while attending a conference with both Andrew and Hamish.)

2. There was an article in the Washington Post today about a new strategy in Afghanistan. Here are my two cents: The so-called "Biden CT option" for Afghanistan was a really bad idea in the fall of 2009 but may be a good option, as I and others have argued, once we have bought enough time and space to build up effective Afghan security forces that allow us to fight a counterinsurgency campaign in Afghanistan by, with and through the Afghans rather than with costly and large deployments of U.S. general purpose forces. The debate, as I see it, surround whether or not we have suffiently set the conditions to fight this kind of lower-cost counterinsurgency campaign. (And this debate, of course, only applies if no progress has been made on reconciliation.) The military, based on the remarks of Sec. Gates and LTG Rodriguez, among others, feels the Afghan security forces need more time and space to develop. In the end, I do not see a way to transition in Afghanistan much faster or much slower than the timeline LTG Barno and I came up with, but if you've got other ideas, knock yourself out.

3. Chaning gears, if the Libyan rebels seize control of the road connecting Tripoli with Tunisia, that's a huge and strategically important victory. I really think the administration has been terribly sloppy in its own management of this conflict, but the rebel gains should be cheered nonetheless.