Robert Komer famously analyzed the mess U.S. foreign policymakers made in Vietnam in his study, “Bureaucracy Does Its Thing.” He would not be terribly surprised, were he still with us, to learn that in Afghanistan bureaucracy has done its thing yet again. Actually, given the proliferation of bureaucratic organizational chart boxes over the past forty years, this Afghan thing is worse than the Vietnam thing. And unfortunately all the brilliant new counterinsurgency manuals in the world can’t fix problems that stem from using the same old rickety government operating system. Hence America’s ambitious Afghanistan “surge” has undermined its own strategic objectives.
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Published on: October 9, 2012
The "surge" has failed to produce an Afghan government that can stand by itself, and U.S. bureaucratic incoherence is to blame.
Frances Z. Brown is an international affairs fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and an Afghanistan fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace.