Arghandab & The Battle for Kandahar
People are confused about the war. The situation is difficult to resolve even for those who are here. For most of us, the conflict remains out of focus, lacking reference of almost any sort. Vertigo leaves us seeking orientation from places like Vietnam - where most of us never have been.
So sad are our motley pundits-cum-navigators that those who have never have been to Afghanistan or Vietnam shamelessly use one to reference the other. We saw this in Iraq.
The most we can do is pay attention, study hard, and try to bring something into focus that is always rolling, yawing, and seemingly changing course randomly, in more dimensions than even astronauts must consider. All while gauging dozens of factors, such as Afghan Opinion, Coalition Will, Enemy Will and Capacity, Resources, Regional Actors (and, of course, the Thoroughly Unexpected). Nobody will ever understand all these dynamic factors and track them at once and through time.
That's the bad news.
The good news is that a tiger doesn't need to completely understand the jungle to survive, navigate, and then dominate. It is not necessary to know every anthropological and historical nuance of the people here. If that were the case, our Coalition of over forty nations would not exist. More important is to realize that they are humans like us. They get hungry, happy, sad, and angry; they make friends and enemies (to the Nth degree); they are neither supermen nor vermin.
They're just people.
But it always helps to know as much as you can. This will take much time, many dispatches, and hard, dangerous work. Let's get started.
Read the rest of Michael's dispatch here.