The latest news from Afghanistan here is that the U.S. is going to continue the trend of passing off responsibility for fixing the place to NATO and anyone else who will do it. I think one of the most interesting quotes in the article is by a British officer explaining how NATO forces will operate: “If you think of a policeman, who is armed but he doesn’t go out looking for a fight, that’s along the lines we’re looking at…”. Unfortunately for everyone involved, Afghanistan is a problem with may layers. The terrorism issue is certainly one but, as I’ve alluded to in earlier posts, the interconnected issues of warlordism and narcotics production will be the most significant obsticals to that country becoming stable. I’ve often thought that the U.S. has had myopic on this issue and focused on terrorism to the exclusion of everything else but we’ll have to see if the new NATO strategy adds balance or just swings too far in the other direction.
A concern here is that some of the NATO member countries, in an effort to minimize their casualties, may balk at sending their troops out on missions they consider dangerous, even if justifiable.
It’s also interesting that for the past 4 years the administration has argued that in the post 9/11 world we can no longer ‘afford’ to treat terrorism as a law enforcement problem. Now, it seems that’s exactly what is going to happen with NATO in charge. I don’t know which philosophy has a better chance of working but I think it goes to show how little the administration wants to be involved with Afghanistan. Without the chance to get some really cool kick-ass battle pictures for the President to pimp out for improved poll numbers he couldn’t wait to drop Afghanistan from his ‘top 10 list of things to do’ and focus where he thought he could get some payoff for playing John Wayne.
Newsweek has an article here which discusses some of the issues surrounding the narcotics trade there.