What a great sentence. It is from the Commander's Initial Assessment by Lieut. General Stan McChrystal, and it says almost everything about the war in Afghanistan – except why we are there and how long, whatever we are doing, will take. Obama ran on Afghanistan being the good war, the just war, the war we have to win to make the world safe. I think that the sub-text was that we abandoned Afghanistan once with disastrous results, and we can't – shouldn't – do it again.
And now Obama is president, and the war seems much harder and more complicated than it did a year ago from the campaign trail. The new commander, seems to actually understand the situation; unfortunately, he wants more troops. In his report, he writes about the five different players in the war, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the International Security Assistance Force, the insurgency, the external players, and the people of Afghanistan. And each of the players, it seems to me (and I think, McChrystal) is a problem.
The Government of the Islamic Republic Of Afghanistan (or GIRoA as it is referred to in the report) has legitimacy problems and has problems with the people supporting it. Without a legitimate government, who are we fighting for.
The report sez that the International Security Assistance Force (that's us – good ol' ISAF) has completely mishandled their role. Until now, the ISAF has had almost no idea of Afghan culture, have tried fighting the war with drones rather than people on the ground, and we have alienated more people than we have converted.
The insurgency, on the other hand, does seem to know what it is doing.
The major two external players, Pakistan and Iran, are completely out of our control. And they each have an agenda which is different than ours.