Archive for the ‘Ambitions’ Category

Afghanistan’s never-ending challenge

H.D.S. Greenway. Boston Globe, 16 December 2009.


The enemy, then as now, always rallied to the reliable call of “jihad’’ against the infidel invaders no matter who they were. Of all the tribes, those of the Pashtuns were the most feared.

The motives for fighting in Afghanistan were fear, prestige, and retribution. The British feared Russian expansion, and always sought to put their man on the throne to do Britain’s bidding. Retribution always followed military setbacks, and national prestige was used as the reason to fight on. British control over Afghanistan was thought necessary for the defense of India.

Russia followed the same scenario, fearing that if Afghanistan’s pro-Communist government should fail, it would endanger Russia’s Muslim regions.

The United States invaded Afghanistan out of fear of Al Qaeda, and retribution for 9/11. And today you often hear the national prestige argument that we cannot let the Holy Warriors believe they can defeat a second superpower. More and more, America’s Afghan policy is tied into protecting the stability of Pakistan, once part of British India.

Chimera of Victory

Gian P. Gentile. New York Times, 31 October 2009.


History shows that occupation by foreign armies with the intent of changing occupied societies does not work and ends up costing considerable blood and treasure.

The notion that if only an army gets a few more troops, with different and better generals, then within a few years it can defeat a multi-faceted insurgency set in the middle of civil war, is not supported by an honest reading of history.

Algeria, Vietnam and Iraq show this to be the case.

Arms for the World: How the U.S. Military Shapes American Foreign Policy

Michael A. Cohen. Dissent, Fall 2009.


… the defining characteristic of U.S. foreign policy and national security policy in the post–cold-war era is the extent to which America’s foreign policy agenda is being crafted and implemented by the military. …Whether it’s waging the war on terror or the war on drugs; nation-building in post-conflict environments; development, democracy promotion, or diplomacy; fighting cyber-criminals or training foreign armies, the global face of the United States today is generally that of a soldier.

Stratfor’s analysis of US reasons for invading and occupying Iraq

Fabius Maximus, 04 March 2008.


Five years after the invasion most Americans do not understand why we are there, which Stratfor clearly saw even before the first airstrikes. We planned to occupy Iraq and build bases from which to project power throughout the Middle East.

Dead Center: The Demise of Liberal Internationalism in the United States

Charles A. Kupchan and Peter L. Trubowitz. International Security, Fall 2007. Posted on the Commonwealth Institute Website (printable .pdf file).

Hybrid War: A New Paradigm for Stability Operations in Failing States

Margaret S. Bond, Carlisle Barracks, PA: U.S. Army War College, 30 March 2007. Posted on the Commonwealth Institute Website (printable .pdf file).

The Rise of U.S. Nuclear Primacy

Daryl Press. Foreign Affairs, March/April 2006.

Thomas P.M. Barnett’s Glossary

Thomas P.M. Barnett