Thursday, December 10, 2009
By John J. Mearsheimer
"In the beginning, Afghanistan looked like a good war. The United States won a quick victory, drove the Taliban and Al Qaeda out, and installed a friendly government. The results seemed so impressive that even before the fighting stopped, the Bush administration decided to replicate the model in Iraq.
But the victory was a mirage. Contrary to what most Americans thought, the United States had jumped into a quagmire in Afghanistan. The root of the problem is simple: a superpower can often topple a hostile regime with relative ease, but then it morphs into an occupying power without an exit strategy. And that usually generates an insurgency.
This problem was not immediately apparent in Afghanistan because the United States overthrew the Taliban with a combination of air power, local allies, and small Special Forces units—not a large-scale invasion. Thus when the fighting ended, the United States didn't look like an occupier, at least at first. Washington then helped place Hamid Karzai in charge, hoping he would pacify Afghanistan without much U.S. help.
These optimistic expectations were soon dashed, however......"