I’m sure, since you’re here, most readers have seen this slide. It was derided on its release for two main reasons. It is ridiculously complex and impenetrable, in the first instance. More importantly, those who could interpret it already knew what it was trying to say, anyway.
This is the problem with a lot of foreign affairs type blogs. It’s a very much an inside baseball conversation. People who understand the situation, its complexities and difficulties, talking to other people about those difficulties and complications.
Granted, there are some influential people in these conversations, but I think, for Outsiders at least, it is important, and perhaps an advantage of being on the fringes, to engage in discourse with people who are ignorant (in a non-derogatory way) of the situation. It’s important to help this section of society to understand the nuances of the situation.
It’s vitally important from a counterinsurgency point of view, if nothing else. It’s one of the reasons why COIN is simple, but simple is difficult. Without the public’s understanding, both at home and in Afghanistan, of why we are there and what we are doing there, it will be difficult to sustain any kind of momentum.
Counterinsurgency is very much a political fight. Arguably, it’s more important in COIN than in conventional war. It’s down to politics that the US failed in Vietnam. And politics could, although I hope and believe not, cause a failure here.
In related news, as I was writing this, I opened my Google Reader account to check on a quote, and was greeted with this: