(also see new articles below). The new site is strictly for overflow. The software at my 2 present sites won't let me post for the next couple of hours. I maybe back posting at the site you are now looking at later today.
THE COMPLETE ARTICLE
THE NEW YORK TIMES
When Less Is BestBy RORY STEWART
The United States needs to be honest about what it wants from Afghanistan and what it can achieve.
Why are we in Afghanistan? Vice President Cheney talks terror, Britain focuses on narcotics. The European Union talks ‘state-building,’ others gender. On a different day, the positions seem interchangeable. Five years ago, we had a clear goal. Now we seem to be pursuing a bundle of objectives, from counterinsurgency to democratization and development, which are presented as uniform but which are in fact logically distinct and sometimes contradictory.
Finance officers in Kabul and shepherds in Kandahar want to know what we did with the $10 billion we spent in the last four years. So do any number of commentators on Afghan TV and radio. And when Helmand villagers see soldiers from countries thousands of miles away carrying guns and claiming to be only building schools, they don’t believe them.
I have noticed that many Afghans now simply assume we are engaged in a grand conspiracy. Nothing else in their minds can explain the surreal gap between our language and performance. The United States needs to be honest about what it wants from Afghanistan and what it can achieve.