Afghanistan Controversy: Less Than Meets the Eye

Is Obama feuding with his generals about Afghanistan? There's more consensus than meets the eye

Ahmad Masood / Reuters

An election worker opens a ballot box during the audit and recount process at a warehouse in Kabul

Correction Appended: Oct. 8, 2009

A few weeks ago, a well-known U.S. military expert gave a wise speech about the near impossibility of making a counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy work in Afghanistan. He gave two examples. The first was digging a well: "How could you do anything wrong by digging a well to give people clean water?" Well, you could create new enemies by where you dug the well and who controlled it. You could lose a village by trying to help it. And then there was the matter of what he called COIN mathematics. If there are 10...

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