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The photo in Laura King’s Los Angeles Times article “‘Three cups of tea’ a byword for U.S. effort to win Afghan hearts and minds” shows why the war in Afghanistan is not going well for the United States. As Ms. King so aptly explains, the phrase “three cups of tea” has been adapted from the […]

Marc Ambinder, politics editor of The Atlantic, explains that there exists a general perception among theorists and policy planners in the Pentagon’s policy shop that General McChrystal’s counterinsurgency strategy has failed to sustain Hamid Karzai’s government in critical areas and is therefore destined to ultimately fail. “This is not how the war is supposed to […]

Two recent articles in the Washington Post and Time magazine describe the political realities faced by the U.S. military, when participating in local politics in Nangahar province, in eastern Afghanistan. Both articles go to great length to describe what many would perceive to be another example of a failed local engagement strategy—and both articles fail […]

Read Noah Coburn’s Connecting with Kabul.  The information contained in this report is invaluable for the practitioner of population-centric COIN looking for insights into the importance of local patronage networks in Afghanistan. While Coburn’s work focuses strictly on Afghanistan, similarities in patterns of social networking behavior can be found in other traditional societies. I personally […]

“Interview with a Tribal Chief” is one series  that ran on the “It’s the Tribes, Stupid” blog. It featured interviews with Chief Ajmal Khan Zazai. Freerange International has a report up about Chief Zazai being ambushed by Pakistani Taliban this past week. Last night as Ajmal was moving through the town of Ali Khel near […]

Reality in Afghanistan (or in any other country for that matter) isn’t a template of do’s and don’ts. Reality is something that military units and the local inhabitants in specific areas create for themselves. I recently read a number of manuscripts by the constructivist scholar Alexander Wendt. The takeaway from Wendt’s work? The only reality […]