The Sons of Afghanistan

Dexter Filkins reports on an emerging strategy in Afghanistan to adopt an analog of the “sons of Iraq” militia-recruitment efforts. Spencer Ackerman expresses some considerable skepticism about this.

I’m relatively sanguine. I’ve always thought — and continue to think — that our post-surge tactics in Iraq have been wildly unsuited to our nominal war aims and to our interests in the region. I think those tactics have “succeeded” by redefining our war aims to something like “save face irrespective of the financial, human, or strategic costs.” But in Afghanistan, I think this makes more sense. In Afghanistan, fighting al-Qaeda really is the overarching goal. Afghanistan has no real tradition of effective central government control. And since Afghanistan doesn’t have the same resource curse issues as Iraq, I think it’s much more plausible to imagine a modus vivendi between disparate armed factions being somewhat stable over time.