A Radical Solution for the War in Afghanistan

If actions speak louder than words, the U.S. military this week seemed to confirm the pessimistic findings of the National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs) on the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which it had pooh-poohed only last week. The military assessment emphasized a rosy picture of gains in the Helmand and Kandahar provinces in Afghanistan, whereas the NIEs, a product of all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, acknowledged some gains in those two provinces but focused on Pakistan’s unwillingness to shut down guerrilla sanctuaries across the border as a serious obstacle. Last week, the military commanders tried to discredit the NIE by saying it was an out-of-date effort by intelligence chairborne divisions that had spent only limited, if any, time in Afghanistan. This week, however, senior American military commanders in Afghanistan—seemingly acknowledging the validity of the desk jockeys’ main point—are advocating a risky expansion of Special Operations ground raids across the Afghanistan/Pakistan border to attack those Taliban sanctuaries, also reflecting a growing frustration with Pakistan’s lack of effort there.


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