Cameron: Afghanistan "Most Important" Foreign Policy Issue for Britain
4:55 PM, Jun 11, 2010 • By JOHN NOONAN
Not a bad start for Britain's new prime minister, David Cameron:
There's been no shortage of armchair generals criticizing NATO's current clear, hold, and build strategy. History, however, has proven that insurgencies are defeated when constituted authorities are provided with the right force levels, proper resources, and (most importantly) enough time to suffocate an insurgent movement. When a country plagued by separatists, guerrillas, or terrorists is finally free such destructive elements, construction of a functional government is free to progress unimpeded.
Unfortunately, President Obama's 2011 timeline for Afghanistan has forced the military's hand, putting senior NATO commanders in a position where they have to clear, hold, and build simultaneously -- all while trying to prop up a Karzai government rife with corruption. Responsibility here is not solely Obama's, as the concept of rushed nation-building was born of the Bush administration. (A useful note: Japan and Germany were under de facto Allied control for years before they were allowed governments of their own.)
So to watch a key NATO ally place Afghanistan at the forefront of its foreign policy is heartening. The British, with their long history of colonial wars, understand the criticality of wartime endurance better than anyone. If we can shed the unnecessary burden of this imprudent withdrawal timeline, a poison to any counterinsurgency effort, securing and stabilizing Afghanistan is fully within reach.