Wednesday, March 13, 2013

who lost Afghanistan?

Last week, Foreign Policy printed a chapter from Vali Nasr's forthcoming book that criticizes the Obama White House and the U.S. military for failing to adopt Richard Holbrooke's policy advice for Afghanistan. Now Sarah Chayes, a civilian with long experience in that country who advised U.S. military commanders, writes a rejoinder.

Chayes is also concerned that U.S. policy is failing in Afghanistan, but she blames the Karzai government's corruption and interference by Pakistan for most of the problem. She also faults Holbrooke and the State Department for failing to develop policies to deal with those problems. She writes:
But the notion that pre-existing partisan animosity toward Holbrooke was a main factor driving policy decisions verges on the paranoid. In fact, deep and passionate philosophical disagreements on the substance divided members of executive branch agencies over how the war should be conducted. And it was these differences of analysis and prescription that shaped the policy debate -- not personal rivalry. 
It's obvious that the Obama administration was divided over how best to handle the many problems in Afghanistan, and that well-meaning officials felt strongly that they were right and should have been listened to.  For us on the outside, let the debates continue.

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