A quick question for the proponents of an escalation in Afghanistan: What are we protecting from a revolution?
The “surge” in Iraq was an exercise in counterinsurgency (COIN). Counterinsurgency is by definition the attempt to protect against a revolution. But in Afghanistan, the authority and structures of the corrupt Kabul regime do not and have not extended into the south of Afghanistan, where the new U.S. troop forces will concentrate.
At best, we’ll be protecting a thoroughly corrupt regime from revolution. At worst, we’ll be defending a phantom from revolution–the writ of Kabul never extended into the targeted areas after our initial invasion. There’s literally no functioning system which can be defended against revolution in the border region, which means our troops will be sent to the region with the hope that a toxic regime will eventually extend its influence there, or, more likely, to be the de facto regime in the area and to defend ourselves against the Taliban’s influence and violence.
Advocates of counterinsurgency seem to presuppose that there is an established government worth defending with American lives in Afghanistan. There isn’t.
In addition, the proposed counterinsurgency strategy will be enormously expensive while failing to provide sufficient support to the development of democratic structure and civil society. Proponents of an escalation bear the burden of explaining to the American people in detail why their proposed strategy in Afghanistan is worth the enormous cost and risk when other, much less costly methods for turning back an insurgency, including the Anti-Coup and Civilian-Based Defense, would simultaneously give locals the tools to turn back the Taliban and strengthen civil society.