Toughing It Out in Afghanistan

Toughing It Out in Afghanistan

Michael E. O’Hanlon
Hassina Sherjan
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 164
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7864/j.ctt6wpgfp
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Toughing It Out in Afghanistan
    Book Description:

    "Michael O'Hanlon and Hassina Sherjan have written a superb analysis of the current strategy in Afghanistan. It is an insightful work by two authors with exceptional knowledge and experience. It is a must-read for those who want a clear understanding of the situation, the strategy, and the path ahead in this crucial conflict."-General Anthony C. Zinni, USMC (Retired)

    In this unique collaboration between an American scholar and an Afghan American entrepreneur,Toughing It Out in Afghanistanprovides a succinct look at the current situation in Afghanistan with policy prescriptions for the future.

    Drawing partly on personal experiences, O'Hanlon and Sherjan outline the tactics being used to protect the Afghan population and defeat the insurgents. They discuss ongoing efforts to reform the Afghan police, to run a better prison system for detainees, to enlist the help of more of Afghanistan's tribes, and to attack corruption. They also discuss the Afghan resistance, including an explanation of how the Taliban mounted a comeback and what it will take to defeat them.

    The authors also seek to demolish common myths about Afghanistan, such as the notion that somehow its people hate foreigners. And they explain how to use metrics, such as those in the Brookings Afghanistan Index, to determine if the new strategy is succeeding in the course of 2010 and 2011. Included are policy suggestions to further increase the size and capabilities of the Afghan army and police, to facilitate Afghan businesses' involvement in economic recovery, to expand the role of other Muslim nations in the effort, and to create a strong international aid coordinator as a civilian counterpart to NATO's military leader.

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-0434-8
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-v)
  2. [Map]
    (pp. vi-vi)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Foreword
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Bruce Riedel

    At first glance Afghanistan does not seem to be a place of any importance to Americans. Afghanistan is a remote and land-locked country of mountains and deserts on the far side of the planet from North America. It is desperately poor. Its only significant export is drugs made from the poppy plants that grow in its valleys. For three decades it has been wracked by foreign invasion, civil war, and terror. Millions of Afghans have died or been displaced in these wars.

    But two of the most significant events of our times had their origins in Afghanistan. The first was...

  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xv)
  6. [Map]
    (pp. xvi-xvi)
  7. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-17)

    Afghanistan has become America’s longest war. Eight years after the United States set out to destroy the al Qaeda terrorist network responsible for the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, along with the Taliban regime that gave it sanctuary, American and NATO troops were still in Afghanistan fighting a resurgent Taliban in a war that had not achieved its original objectives and that threatened to have negative effects on the stability of neighboring Pakistan. Barack Obama promised during his presidential campaign that he would refocus on Afghanistan, that the previous administration had made a mistake by turning away...

  8. [Map]
    (pp. 18-18)
  9. CHAPTER TWO The Rise, Fall, and Resurgence of the Taliban
    (pp. 19-29)

    How did Afghanistan end up in its current troubled state? And how have the Taliban become such a powerful, resurgent force within the country—with continuing strong links to al Qaeda as well as to the Pakistani Taliban and elements of the Pakistan intelligence community? If we are to assess accurately the prospects for success, we must first understand the foe we face.

    The Taliban are an impressive and resilient movement and a formidable adversary of the Afghan people, the United States, NATO, and the broader international community. Their goal is to impose, once again, an extremist view of Islam...

  10. [Map]
    (pp. 30-30)
  11. CHAPTER THREE The Strategy
    (pp. 31-60)

    As of early 2010, by our reckoning, Afghanistan will have surpassed Vietnam as America’s longest war. Surely those who call the war a quagmire would seem to have a point?

    Some would counsel continued patience, offering arguments such as “the United States and its allies simply must win in Afghanistan,” or “counterinsurgencies often take a decade or more to succeed,” or “NATO is the most powerful alliance in history and has never lost a war,” or “we cannot lose the war unless we lose our political will at home.” But these exhortations, however true at one level, amount to cheerleading,...

  12. CHAPTER FOUR Responding to the Critics
    (pp. 61-78)

    The Afghanistan war has understandably become controversial, given its long duration and lack of progress. Only one other war in American history rivals this one for its length, and that is Vietnam, so the parallels are unavoidable at one level. Critics have many fair concerns and all deserve response. In fact, after all the mistakes that have been made to date, after all the years and lives and dollars that have been squandered, the Afghanistan war may turn out to be unwinnable. But it is too soon to be fatalistic. More to the point, however, we believe that the war...

  13. CHAPTER FIVE Measuring Progress—and Figuring Out an Exit Plan
    (pp. 79-87)

    How can we tell if a counterinsurgency campaign is being won? In the course of 2010 and 2011 it will be very important to know how to answer this question in Afghanistan. Even if the current U.S.-NATO-led strategy is increasingly robust and correct, and even if it is improved further in ways we suggest in the next chapter, it is important to recognize that the effort could still fail. The situation could simply be hopeless at this late hour, after so many years of floundering that have cost NATO and President Hamid Karzai so much credibility and allowed the Taliban...

  14. [Map]
    (pp. 88-88)
  15. CHAPTER SIX Improving the Strategy
    (pp. 89-112)

    For all its strengths, and for all the improvement of the last two years, current strategy in Afghanistan still has major problems. Not all need to be fixed, or at least fixed promptly, for our core strategic goals—containing the insurgency while helping the Afghan government develop the tools to continue doing so itself—to be achieved. But some are still rather urgent. And on other matters, we should continue to try to set the stage for longer-term progress.

    The economy is failing most of the people of the country, even if GDP is growing. Opium remains the backbone of...

  16. Notes
    (pp. 113-128)
  17. APPENDIX Excerpts from Brookings Afghanistan Index: Tracking Variables of Reconstruction & Security in Post-9/11 Afghanistan
    (pp. 129-156)
  18. Index
    (pp. 157-164)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 165-166)