This week, President Obama announced that he will send an additional 17,000 troops to Afghanistan. While Obama is correct that we need to focus more attention on the situation in Afghanistan, his decision to send more troops was premature, and a continuation of a strategy that hasn’t produced positive results.
One of the most interesting perspectives I have read recently on the US’s strategy in Afghanistan is a RAND Corporation report entitled “How Terrorist Groups End.” The authors looked at all terrorist groups that ended operations over 40 years, and determined that only 7% of them were defeated through military force. Either policing and intelligence or political reconciliation accounted for the vast majority of scenarios with successful eradication of terrorist groups.
This is history that the Obama administration would be unwise to ignore. While President Obama has said some positive things about needing diplomacy and other nonmilitary strategies, he hasn’t laid out a clear plan or addressed the concerns about the military presence, particularly air strikes and home raids, in alienating the local population. Recent polls have showed that the Afghan population is increasingly opposed to the foreign military presence, and the US will need a more comprehensive strategy to turn things around and achieve stability in Afghanistan.
With so much focus on the war in Iraq for the past several years, there has been a lack of debate about Afghanistan and whether the US approach is the right one. We are urging people to get in contact with the administration and Congress to push them for a clear plan that explores nonmilitary option.