Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Recycled Afghanistan Stories and Ideas

I haven't written much not because I had nothing to say, but rather to avoid getting caught up in the tornado of voices, especially on Afghanistan. The news all seems recycled, and so do the ideas.
  • Afghanistan is corrupt and the election was likely stolen. We knew that was the case, and we knew the elections would probably be stolen.
  • Both Fareed Zakaria and Fred Kaplan had the same brilliant idea that we should simply throw money at the problem by bribing everyone and their brother in Afghanistan.
  • Paul Pillar sums up the "safe haven" debate nicely, but it's nothing I, or others didn't say.
  • Another smart, young officer, Joseph Kerns Goodwin, returned from Afghanistan to tell us how bad the situation is on the ground, which we will likely ignore.
  • A draft of the metrics was released today, and while it appears to be thoughtful and contain a list of good things to measure, it lacks any actual numbers. Don't worry, apparently Afghanistan is like kindergarten, we can keep trying as many reviews and metrics as it takes to get it right. For as long as I've waited for the metrics you might think they would get me excited, but nope, nothing.
  • The COIN crowd keeps arguing that COIN is awesome and the solution to everything and ignoring the lack of a strategy that COIN is supposed to help implement. They are even having a big COIN conference to talk about how important COIN is. Fun! (would they seem even nerdier if we called them numismatists?)
  • Even Osama bin Ladin's message seemed phoned in. "Death to America and Israel, blah blah blah." (although at least one blogger has promised to Auto-Tune the tape; maybe that can spice it up.)
Is it the economy? Is there a down market for ideas right now? Even I feel repetitive: Pakistan is not going to collapse despite the heavy-handed Pakistani military; we need an actual strategy in Afghanistan; we need to work on our smart power; etc, etc.
I'm all for recycling, but this is ridiculous. Wake me up when you're ready to have a non-circular debate.

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