Afghanistan: The Americans arrive in the south, and we're not the Americans

I have been meaning to write about a striking Washington Post article from the weekend about what the new American deployment in the south of Afghanistan entails, but it’s a weirdly busy day around here so I’ll just point you to Mark From Ottawa at the indispensable Torch blog, because he annotates the Post story usefully. Money quote:

People at the regional command now joke that the three provinces should be renamed Canadahar, Helmandshire and Uruzdam [emphasis added].
“It’s a totally dysfunctional way of fighting a war [emphasis added],” said a U.S. officer in the south. “You’ve got each of these guys doing their own thing in their provinces with very little coordination.”

Also note that the new Petraeus-led enthusiasm for importing what worked in Iraq — enticing congenial ethnic factions to do some of the heavy lifting — does not seem to be in the cards for the Afghan south, which is an ethnic stew orders of magnitude more complex and hard to influence than the Iraq or the rest of Afghanistan. This promised restraint is no small blessing, and if it works out this way we can all be grateful.

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