Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Juan Cole on Escalation in Afghanistan

McChrystal Advises Escalation of Aghan War
Juan Cole responds (and its pretty grim):
"I have some basic questions about the "take, clear and hold" strategy that seems to be recommended in Afghanistan by Gen. Stan McChrystal, and which is modeled on the alleged lessons of Iraq.

The Sunni Arabs of Iraq, who produced most of the insurgency against the US presence and the rise of a new Shiite government, amount to less than 20 percent of Iraq's population of 27 million. In other words, they are about 5 million strong. The compact Sunni areas such as al-Anbar Province have been special challenges.

The Pashtuns of Afghanistan, in contrast, are probably 44% of the population of 34 million, or a little over 14 million.

In other words, pacifying the Pashtuns from whom the Taliban emerge is three times more difficult than monitoring and pacifying Iraq.

Moreover, the Sunni Arabs were ethnically cleansed from Baghdad by Shiite militias, making them more willing to listen to the US and to form Awakening Councils. The Pashtuns have not been defeated by anyone.

I doubt the US & NATO have the sheer resources to put down the guerrillas in Afghanistan."

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