By: Tawfik Hamid
The lack of success in the war in Afghanistan is acknowledged widely, and the U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal recently launched a new counterinsurgency strategy.
That strategy includes a request for 40,000 more troops, a recommendation that has ignited much debate but no action.
The decision on how to proceed in Afghanistan is crucial, as there will be grave consequences if the United States and its allies lose the war. This is partially because many see the war as one between our civilization and barbarism, a point that both President Obama and former President Bush have emphasized.
It is important to realize the difference between traditional war, where two traditional army forces face each other and war against radical groups and suicide bombers, who target civilians.
The difficulties that the United States and its allies face when dealing with Taliban fighters can be summarized in the following points:
1) The enemy is using insurgency as a tool to launch regular warfare.
2) The enemy's fighters are scattered as many small groups rather limited frontlines. This makes it more difficult to win with traditional military approaches used in conventional wars.
3) The enemy predominantly targets civilians in markets, funerals, and hospitals. This factor aggravates the problem as it is virtually impossible and extremely costly to protect all civilian areas in the country.