October 12, 2009

Counterintuitive Counterinsurgency

Featuring John A. Nagl and Richard Fontaine

As the Obama administration debates whether to stick with the counterinsurgency strategy for Afghanistan, opponents point to that nation's flawed presidential election as a reason why this approach cannot work. Counterinsurgency is premised, they argue, on the presence of a legitimate national government that can win allegiance from local populations. Given credible allegations of rampant abuse in Afghanistan's August election, President Hamid Karzai's newly illegitimate government cannot play this role. As a result, the United States has little choice but to change strategies.

This argument is badly flawed. Electoral fraud will render our task in Afghanistan more difficult, but it does not make counterinsurgency impossible. On the contrary, a counterinsurgency approach -- and not a narrowly tailored mission focused solely on killing or capturing enemies -- remains the best path to success in Afghanistan.

Read the full article at Los Angeles Times.