It's no secret that if the U.S. and its NATO partners want to secure Afghanistan in the coming year, one of the most important elements is going to be defending the civilian population. This is going to mean that Afghans--particularly on the village level--need to feel safe in saying "no thanks" to Taliban fundamentalism. This isn't going to be an easy task, but it will be necessary if the U.S. wants to purge the Islamic insurgency in Afghanistan.
In approximately six months, the Obama Administration plans to double the presence of American boots on the ground in Afghanistan. Just down the grape vine, I've heard a few of these on-the-ground goals:
1. Secure the road from Kabul to Kandahar.
2. Rely less on air strikes that have a bad habit of killing civilian bystanders.
3. Convince the average Afghan that the Taliban and al-Qaeda are NOT on the rise.
So yeah, it's going to be a hell of a year in Afghanistan.
But we know all this. And it seems like almost everyone is in agreement that sending more troops and engaging in something just short of an Iraqi style of population-centric counterinsurgency will do the trick. But will it?
I don't know how I got on the list, but I am, and know I now receive emails from a new and engaging foundation called Rethink Afghanistan. They argue mostly what I have argued for in Afghanistan: Keep a light footprint and push for a regional solution that creates an environment where an Afghan police state is not needed. Victory would be a credible yet limited government in Kabul with allies across the country's more ungovernable regions.
Rethink Afghanistan focuses on part military strategy, but also on the fact that the U.S. is in an economic meltdown and sending more troops to this Central Asian country that most Americans couldn't point out on a map is simply absurd.
So take a look at the website and sound off in the comments. Is it really a good idea to be sending all these troops into a country that has a reputation for breaking nations? And besides, no one learned how to fly a plane into the WTC from rural Afghanistan anyways.
(They also have a fancy new movie you can watch on line.)