Once again, General David Petraeus has been asked to initiate a military campaign in a nation wracked with insurgents and conflict. The famous “surge” he implemented in Iraq did result in a reduction of deaths, but two years after the supposed “success,” Iraq continues to witness bombings and death by al-Qaeda. Are there parallels between Iraq and Afghanistan?
1. In both nations, insurgents are deeply embedded within local populations.
2. Security forces are ill equipped, ill-trained and poorly led.
3. Both countries are led by corrupt, inefficient governments.
4. The local population has scant trust in either its own government forces or those of the US.
Back home, the American public in 2010 is even less confident there is any exit strategy in Afghanistan that makes sense.
What about differences?
1. The war in Iraq was mainly in urban areas. The war in Afghanistan is fought in rural and mountainous areas.
2. Iraq had a large educated class which, under Saddam, became secular. Most of its population is literate. Afghanistan is mainly illiterate, and the educated class is small.
3. Iraq has a well educated female population. This is just beginning in Afghanistan.
Can Petreaus pull it off? Who knows, the Shadow only knows.