Dan Green, for Armed Forces Journal:
In the long run, because this conflict is not about how many casualties counter-insurgent forces impose on the insurgents but about the will to stay in the fight, foreign counterinsurgents tend to grow weary of the amount of blood and treasure they must expend.
While the Taliban's strategic goals of uniting the Pashtuns, ejecting foreign military occupation and imposing Sharia law are well known, their tactical political program is less well understood and its popularity among many Pashtuns even more so.
While the Taliban will impose their will on villagers if they have to, and they often do so violently, they also have a positive agenda that seeks to entice supporters to their banner. The Taliban practice micropolitics to a remarkably high degree of sophistication. Because the people are unable to hold corrupt or ineffective provincial officials accountable, they often turn to the Taliban to address injustices.
To rob the Taliban of their ability to dispense on-the-spot justice, it is imperative that we make the justice sector a viable and dynamic part of the provincial government.
From a year ago:
All parties agreed that the only solution to Afghanistan's conflict is through dialogue, not fighting.
Elizabeth Rubin, from February 2008:
If you peel back the layers, there's always a local political story at the root of the killing and dying.
If you give me money, everything's going to be cool, okay? It's gonna be cool. Give me money. No consequences, no whammies, money.
Researchers have shown it takes about ten years to develop expertise in any of a wide variety of areas ...
That's barely enough time to get started.
In some cultures you're supposed to be responsible out to the seventh generation -- that's about 200 years. But it goes right against self-interest.
Some people say that they feel the future is slipping away from them. To me, the future is a big tractor-trailer slamming on its brakes in front of me just as I pull into its slip stream. I am about to crash into it.
From a January 2008 town-hall meeting:
Q: President Bush has talked about our staying in Iraq for fifty years.
John McCain: Make it a hundred.
You've got to make a long-term commitment.
Elizabeth Rubin, from the Korengal Valley:
It didn't take long to understand why so many soldiers were taking antidepressants.