The “surge” in Iraq proves that counterinsurgency strategies can work; all we have to do is stay the course.

The “surge” in Iraq was only a partial success, predicated as much on a program to pay wages to almost 100,000 Sunni that had been fighting against us as it was on an increase in troops. Conditions in Afghanistan are far more challenging. There was a reduction in violence in Iraq, but the “surge” failed to produce meaningful political reconciliation. Escalation in Afghanistan has achieved few results so far, and there is no reason to think this will change.

The effectiveness of the “surge” in Iraq depended heavily on the simultaneous political turn of the Sunnis against the counterinsurgency. Ethnic and sectarian faultlines in Afghanistan are far more complicated and tribal structures are far more fragmented than in Iraq, making a similar political turn among insurgents very remote. Political reconciliation in Afghanistan will have to proceed community by community.

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