Rethink Afghanistan


Part 1: Afghanistan + More Troops = Catastrophe

Part 2: Pakistan: “The Most Dangerous Country”

Part 3: Cost of War

Anand Gopal, Afghanistan Correspondent, Christian Science Monitor: The United States has only forces to go and control certain urban areas. . . .  They don’t have the troop size, nor could they conceivably ever have the troop size to actually control the countryside.  It would require hundreds of thousands of troops, in every village, which is not a tenable situation whatsoever.

Robert Pape, Professor Political Science, Author, Dying to Win: You need a ratio of something like one combat soldier for every forty people in the country.  What that equates to in Afghanistan is well over a quarter million Western combat forces.

Zaid Hamid, Security Analyst: You see, you need to learn from history.  There were half a million Soviet troops in Afghanistan, and they could not contain the Afghan resistance.

Ruslan Aushev, Lt. General, Russian Army (Ret.), Chief, Committee of Russian Afghan Veterans: I understood then that we were doing something wrong.  Because if we did something right, the people wouldn’t have risen against us.  And from that day on, I started perceiving that people were against us, their glances at us were already different, their actions were different, and every day the resistance of the population was growing.  They started to form groups, divisions, getting help.  And starting from February of 1980 and all through the withdrawal in February 1989, the negative attitude towards us was increasing.

Tariq Ali, Historian, Author, The Duel: Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power: The [Pakistani] government is in a very weak position, because it cannot supply the needs of the people on any level.  If you look at the country as a whole, you have the situation where 60% of the children born each year are born moderately or severely stunted due to malnutrition.

Andrew Bacevich, Professor, International Relations and History, Author, The Limits of Power: The worst scenario is one in which our efforts to project military power into Pakistan in order to try to stabilize Afghanistan have an unintended consequence of destabilizing Pakistan.

Stephen Kinzer, Foreign Correspondent, Author, Overthrow: Right now, Pakistan is the most dangerous country in the world.  It’s nuclear-armed, it’s highly unstable, and the breakup of that country and the emergence of a kind of a nuclear-armed Pashtunistan controlled by Al Qaeda would be something like the worst nightmare in the world.  Therefore, it should be engraved on the mind of every American diplomat, everywhere in the world: do nothing that would further destabilize Pakistan.

Linda J. Bilmes, Co-author, The Three Trillion Dollar War: In today’s dollars, the amount we spent per troop in World War 2 was $50,000.  We’re spending ten times that per troop in Iraq.  We can expect the per troop cost in Afghanistan is higher than that.  I would expect it would be between 20 to 50 percent higher cost, upfront cost, per troop.

Lawrence Korb, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress, Senior Advisor, Center for Defense Information: Afghanistan is very difficult to supply, and it becomes much more expensive to ferry the stuff either through Pakistan or, to come in the other way, from Russia and through the Caucasus states. . . . Afghanistan is completely landlocked, so what we’ve had to do is, up until now, we’ve been sending the majority of supplies, for example oil, through Pakistan.

Winslow Wheeler, Director, Straus Military Reform Project: We’re opening up this alternate supply route that gets into Afghanistan from the north that requires the cooperation of Tajikistan and several of the other stans on the northern border of Afghanistan, much longer and torturous, and it’s gonna be a more expensive logistics route, so those costs are gonna go up in a manner not commensurate with the numerical increase in troops but above and beyond that.

For more information, go to <>.  The above are a few quotations from Rethink Afghanistan.