What Is Plan B in Afghanistan?
Afghanistan is not, in fact, being consumed, at the moment, by a raging fire; it only feels that way. There are some aspects of the war that are not going terribly. Territory taken by international military forces in the south is being held against the Taliban, although it’s not clear how durable those achievements are. Security for civilians in the big cities, even Kandahar, is generally better than it was a couple of years ago. The point is only that despite the shocks and despair of the past few weeks, it is at least conceivable that there is enough time and space to rethink the assumptions on which the current exit plan is based, with an eye toward making sure that it does not fail spectacularly.
Some of the assumptions of the original Obama plan have turned out to be simply wrong. The most glaring one is that NATO’s surge in 2009 could induce better governance and decisively improved international-aid performance. There are at least two other dubious assumptions. One is that Afghan politics will be cohesive and stable enough in 2014 to bear the pressures of a dramatic reduction of foreign troops. A second is that Afghan security forces will be capable and politically unified enough to take on the burden assigned to them.
- In today’s Daily Comment, Steve Coll on the recent news coming from Afghanistan: http://nyr.kr/wqGEvt