Tuesday, June 28, 2011

50/50 chance in Afghanistan?

There's a new study by the RAND Corporation of Afghanistan.  It applies a methodology used earlier to assess when governments and when insurgents win their conflicts. There are 15 "good" and 12 "bad" factors. In Afghanistan today, the RAND people say, the net calculation is lower than any successful counterinsurgent government but higher than any losing government.

That sounds about right to me. But I want to point out two questionable aspects of the study's methodology. First, it considers all 27 factors as of equal weight. That helps the calculation, of course, but it means that the competence of the local government and a perception of security are considered no more important than whether the government achieves two "strategic communication factors."  Second, most of the problem areas -- other than the "bad" factor that the primary counterinsurgency force is viewed as an external occupier -- are not really under the control of the international forces led by the United States. They depend on what the Afghan government and security forces do.

In other words, it's still their war to win or lose.

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