Brookings Institute fellow and counterinsurgency expert Dr. Vanda Felbab-Brown did an AMA on Reddit Monday in which she nailed the problems with America’s efforts in Afghanistan.Here’s her response to Reddit user Salacious’ question “What was the biggest mistake that the US made when we first went in to Afghanistan?”
Felbab-Brown (linked information by Business Insider):
One was underresourcing the mission from the get-go and thus having to rely on problematic powerbrokers for delivering security and our military objectives. Of course, they … used it to anchor their power and increase their ability to get economic gains at the expense of Afghanistan’s society. Iraq contributed hugely to the drain on US resouces for the Afghanistan war …
The second – interrelated – mistake was to rely on problematic powerbrokers and never develop a robust will on our end to hold the powerbrokers and the Karzai government accountable and [make] serious demand better governance. As a result, the political dispensation in Afghanistan is predatory and seen as profoundly illegitimate and many Afghans call it a mafia rule. And even by mafia rule standards, governance in Afghanistan is not very good.
The “power brokers” she refers to so diplomatically here range from common warlords, to President Karzai, and as far as the entire government of Pakistan — whose refusal, following drone strikes and cross border incursions, to allow fuel to cross through their territory nearly ended the war.
One needn’t spend much time in Afghanistan to find complaints, among troops and citizens alike, of rampant corruption. The corruption hampers infrastructure and civil growth.
Her first stated problem is no stranger to anyone who’s followed the war since the outset: Afghanistan was largely forgotten between 2003 and 2008. As a result, operations faultered.
Felbab-Brown acknowledges that open conflict is a complex ordeal, but most experts agree, the tiniest misstep in combat ends in loss of life, loss of the battle, and even loss of the war.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.