Friday, May 28, 2010

All Afghan Politics is Local

I've long urged our war effort in Afghanistan to deal with the national government in Kabul only as much as necessary and to bypass the so-called "central government" to deal with Afghans at a local level to work with us and fight at our side against the jihadis. I fear that a focus on the national--and even provincial--government level will just set us up for failure.

So it is reassuring to occasionally read pieces that suggest we are, in fact, working the locals. Strategypage writes:

Since September 11, 2001, the Special Forces have been increasingly influencing the way the Department of Defense deals with irregular warfare. Thus the increase of American forces in Afghanistan is accompanied by new techniques for connecting, and working with, Afghans. This is important, because there is no cultural glue holding Afghanistan together. The country is a patchwork of tribes, each of them looking inwards, rather than outward. Thus the foreign troops find it more effective when they work with the locals on personal and tribal concerns. This is what gets the attention, and cooperation, of rural Afghans. The tribes see the national government as a necessary evil, and provincial government as a source of oppression (unless their tribe controls it.)

This is retail counter-insurgency, winning one village and one valley at a time--while hopefully keeping the national government in Kabul from screwing up our efforts.