False Dichotomy

October 29, 2009

We have more options in Afghanistan than Biddle lets on.

by Michael A. Cohen

This summer, Stephen Biddle wrote one of the more influential and oft-cited articles in support of the current U.S. mission in Afghanistan. In "Is It Worth It?" in The American Interest, Biddle argued that by the narrowest of margins, the United States had strategic interests that necessitated the maintenance of a robust military presence in Afghanistan.

In "Is There a Middle Way?" in the most recent issue of TNR, Biddle has focused instead on the operational elements of U.S. engagement in Afghanistan. He argues that a mission oriented around half-measures—such as paying off Afghan warlords or building up the Afghan security services—as opposed to a fully-integrated counter-insurgency (COIN) strategy that incorporates all of these measures is destined to fail. But then as now, Biddle's argument is predicated on a dubious straw man, which reduces the Afghanistan debate to a simplistic, binary argument between two unfeasible options.

(Continue reading)

This article appeared at TNR.com on October 29, 2009.

Michael A. Cohen is a senior research fellow with the American Strategy Program and co-director with the Privitization of Foriegn Policy Initiative at the New America Foundation.

Posted by coalition at October 29, 2009 11:10 PM

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