Afghanistan: "Winnable, but only just"

From George Packer’s New Yorker blog (and by the way, I spent part of the week wondering at the very existence of such a thing as a “New Yorker blog”), an interview with another smart guy, David Kilcullen, who isn’t very sanguine about the current state of play. (If you have an hour, here he is on Charlie Rose a year ago.) Highlights:

It’s bad: violence is way up, Taliban influence has spread at the local level, and popular confidence in the government and the international community is waning fast. It’s still winnable, but only just, and to turn this thing around will take an extremely major effort starting with local-level governance, political strategy, giving the Afghan people a well-founded feeling of security, and dealing with the active sanctuary in Pakistan. A normal U.S. government transition takes six to nine months, by the time new political appointees are confirmed, briefed, and in position. But nine months out from now will be the height of the Afghan fighting season, and less than a month out from critical Presidential elections in Afghanistan. If we do this the “normal” way, it will be too late for the Obama Administration to grip it up.

Much more to read. Worth your time.