“AfPak 2020: A Symposium”

We asked four experts what US policy in the AfPak theater would yield in the next ten years—and what, if anything, Washington might do differently. Military historian Victor Davis Hanson begins by offering a contemporary context for American efforts; New York Times Magazine writer James Traub envisions what a partition might look like; Ann Marlowe, returning from her latest trip to the region, suggests that demography will play a more important role than we might think; and Matthieu Aikins reports from Kandahar on the need to spend less, talk more, and shed the illusion of “victory.”

World Affairs Journal

I haven’t had a chance to do more than quickly skim the above article, so I’m not sure how to compare the entries to the ChicagoBoyz Afghanistan 2050 Roundtable. I do have one quick comment on Victor Davis Hanson’s interesting contribution to the World Affairs Journal Symposium: Afghanistan is not Iraq, and some critics of the current counterinsurgency doctrine (we provide development aid, the population turns on the Taliban) don’t want to leave full-stop – and never have. We want a plan more tailored to the Afghanistan environment. But the good Dr. Hanson has forgotten more about things military than I’ll ever know, so we shall see how our current efforts are faring in the spring, summer, and fall. Bing West did say in his talk at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs that the Obama Administration will declare victory this summer. “You can count on it.”


Anyone who has been watching the war in Afghanistan for the past two years knows that ISAF, having focused on southern Afghanistan for the past 18 months, now aspires to shift its focus to Afghanistan’s east, where the war has been underresourced and where, in contrast to southern Afghanistan, the Taliban has been gaining momentum. Speak to any commanders on the ground, and they will tell you that if they have their way (and on account of its complexity), eastern Afghanistan will be the last place from which conventional western forces will withdraw in 2013 and 2014.

Abu Muqawama

Who Could Have Guessed ?

On May 18th of this year, I went to a talk at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs by General David H. Petraeus. It was entitled AN UPDATE FROM U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND.

And then: an article in Rolling Stone appears all over the internet before the hard copy even hits the stands, there is a MEDIA-PUNDIT-INTERNET uproar (with some justification) followed by the stepping down of one General, a stepping into a different role by another, and a new Commander of U.S. Central Command. The new Commander is General Mattis – another pretty quotable guy.

Life. Unpredictable, eh?

If any of you are still interested, I’ve translated some of my “worse-than-chicken-scratchings” notes of the event below. Have a look, if so inclined (and hey, I’m not a professional journalist so it’s not like my notes are the gospel or anything).

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“An Evening of Counterinsurgency at the Pritzker Military Library”

Hearts and minds? Overrated. If you want to run a successful counterinsurgency, it all starts with the person at the top.

On Thursday, December 3rd, Mark Moyar will appear at the Pritzker Military Library to discuss his new book, A Question of Command: Counterinsurgency from the Civil War to Iraq.

Small Wars Journal

I’m not sure that I’ll be able to make this program at the Pritzker Military Library (Chicago). It’s always touch-and-go with me and early evening talks – work and all that. Hopefully, some of the chicagoboyz readership will be able to attend!

Update: Thomas Rid reviews the book here, “Mark Moyar pitches his book as a challenge to that thesis. Counterinsurgency must not be just population-centric. Nor can it be merely enemy-centric, as conventional wars against opposing armies were. No, successful counterinsurgency is “leader-centric.”