posted on March 13, 2012 at 9:59 am
In a article for Salon, ASP fellow Joshua Foust talks about whether the shooting incident in Afghanistan affects the pending US pullout and how the US should adjust its strategy in Afghanistan.
President Obama missed a critical opportunity in 2009 to reorient the war away from a military-led battle with some political trappings, to a political strategy with a military component. It’s not too late to make that shift in perspective and outlook – not yet, at least. While Sunday’s mass murder is shocking, it does provide some space in Washington for a pivot point to reorient the war where it needs to be: on the politics of Afghanistan, and not on the insurgency of Afghanistan.
A reorientation on politics opens up new choices for reengaging with Afghans under a less militarist rubric. It can allow new doctrines like Expeditionary Economics to reshape the economic and political engagement of local communities. It creates space for addressing the systemic causes of corruption: a poorly designed government that cannot raise its own revenue. And it puts the ultimate, long-term American goal with the Afghan people, instead of the insurgency or even Afghan government.
The opportunity to turn the Afghanistan conflict onto a better path is being drowned out by the shock and outrage over Sunday’s murders. And the administration has shown no interest in changing course, either. But altering the war so it focuses on the political reasons for conflict is the only way to avoid a complete disaster when the withdrawal finally happens.