Flip sides of the COIN
- Just hours after US Secretary of State John Kerry had announced a deal had been reached, Afghan President Hamid Karzai postponed the signing of a security agreement with the US until after next April’s elections. American officials were still recently hoping for a very rapid conclusion to these negotiations. Here’s the predecisional draft [PDF], and a letter [PDF] sent by President Obama to Karzai. Much is at stake.
- Former US general and Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry says COIN was a failure there. Military.com takes up the debate, and notes other points of view from McChrystal et. al. Petraeus himself takes up that side in his own Foreign Policy article.
- A report by the Chatham House think tank shares the blame for Britain’s military difficulties in Iraq and Afghanistan beyond just politicians, and recommends a more formal approach to policy:
“Although in theory the British model could be flexible and fast-acting, it brought incoherence, inconsistency and opacity. It was not resilient enough to deal with the extraordinary pressures of the Iraq and Afghanistan crises. It contributed to a continuing breakdown of trust between politicians and senior military officers, and disunity and division of purpose within the government.
The ad hoc British approach to political-military relations contrasts strongly with US practice, which is based on a mixture of a formal legal framework, a lively public and specialist debate, and the continuing exercise of civilian authority over the armed forces, including through the dismissal of senior officers.”