September 11, 2010

The ASG Report

I read through the Afghanistan Study Group's report last night and recommend you all do so as well because some really smart people contributed to it, and I applaud anyone who attempts to construct an alternative to the current troubled strategy. But the fact that Josh Foust absolutely demolishes pretty much everything the report says might highlight how very difficult it is to construct a strategy in Afghanistan that both makes sense in terms of U.S. interests and the reality on the ground. That does not mean, though, that people should not continue to try.

(In all seriousness, goodness gracious ... this post on Registan is the most clinical and devastating take-down of a policy paper I have ever read. It recalls Tony Judt's verdict on Kolakowski's "My Correct Views on Everything": "the most perfectly executed intellectual demolition in the history of political argument: no one who reads it will ever take E.P. Thompson seriously again." Reading Josh's post, I actually found myself embarassed for the authors of the ASG, many of whom are terribly intelligent and considerate scholars, such is the cold-blooded ferocity of Josh's criticism. If you are a think tank researcher who is not an expert on Afghanistan but are about to publish something on Afghanistan, I highly recommend you ask a smart Afghanistan expert like Josh or Christian Bleuer to read what you have written before you publish. Consider that free advice from a think tank researcher who does not consider himself any kind of "expert" on the peoples, languages or history of Afghanistan but who often publishes security-related commentary on the conflict there.)