That’s why it’s critical for the United States and NATO to involve India in the talks as soon as possible. India isn’t opposed to talks between Afghanistan and the Taliban, but they’d go ballistic if Pakistan gets the inside track. So if Obama is serious about jump-starting diplomacy to end the war in advance of the July, 2011, deadline he’s set for the start of a US drawdown, he’d better concentrate on getting both India and Pakistan on board. (more…)

The recent presidential election was a spectacle of fraud; the Afghan Army, despite years of training, may hardly exist (as Ann Jones reported for this site in September); the ill-paid, ill-trained Afghan police are known to operate on the principle of corruption; and a surprisingly small percentage of foreign reconstruction funds actually makes it out of the pockets of big private contractors and western specialists, as well as security firms, and into Afghan hands. (more…)

Too often, the Obama administration seems to indicate that they see the emergence of a new Afghan government under Karzai as critical to the counterinsurgency (COIN) policy that the generals are addicted to. But that’s a formula for a Thirty Years’ War. A new Afghan government could indeed kick start a solution there, but only if it’s focused on a diplomatic and political settlement, not an escalated war. (more…)

Professor Martin van Creveld of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the only non-American military historian on the U.S. Army’s list of required reading for officers, has accused former president George W. Bush of “launching the most foolish war since Emperor Augustus in 9 BC sent his legions into Germany and lost them.” Please do not feel you have to compete with your predecessor for such laurels. (more…)

“This war is so unbalanced in so many ways, so much power on one side, so much true hatred on the other, so much technology for us, so much potential terrorism on the other, that the damages cannot be estimated. It is bad to enter a war that offers no clear avenue to conclusion. … There will always be someone left to act as a terrorist.” (more…)