Asymmetrical Warfare and the US

Posted on November 14, 2010

We are still grappling with the nature of an asymmetrical conflict/war and trying to understand what it means for our lives now and into the future.

We here in the US keep voting for candidates that promise to extricate us from Afghanistan and Iraq.  But what sleight of hand can free us from these asymmetrical wars?

©On My Watch…the writings of SamHenry.  Registration pending.

Stephen M. Walt is the Robert and Renée Belfer professor of international relations at Harvard University has two points to make in this regard:

  • U.S. commanders have emphasized in the past that this [Afghan] conflict is largely one of perceptions.
  • Defeating the Taliban on the battlefield is nearly impossible as long as they can go to ground in local areas or flee across the border into Pakistan.

The bottom line for Walt is that Obama will force an agreement between Karzi and some moderate Taliban.  Pakistan will be bribed into pretending to support the agreement and the US voter will be satiated.  However, the long-term outcome may be decidedly different:

the Taliban will regroup, Pakistan will help rearm them covertly, and the struggle for power in Afghanistan will resume. Afghanistan’s fate will once again be primarily in the hands of the Afghan people and the nearby neighbors who meddle there for their own reasons. I don’t know who will win, but it actually won’t matter very much for U.S. national security interests. [Foreign Policy]

Does this mean that we will have to accept countries that may be more radical Islamic theocracies and sharia?  It appears so.  We have been saying for years that we cannot police the world.  Perhaps the era of spreading democracy has ended and the very best we can do is protect it where it now exists.