Defeat of the Taliban is Possible
“Pessimism comes from the passions, optimism from the will”. Taro Aso former Prime Minister of Japan.
By Con George-Kotzabasis
The author is right to excavate the wisdom of Thucydides from the ruins of the Peloponnesian war. And the profound insights and political fecundity of Thucydides can be used in variable ways and historical contexts. For example, on the issue of preemptive strike he said, “It was… praiseworthy to get one’s blow in first against someone who was going to do wrong.” Thus Afghanistan, as one could consider its military ‘denizens’ as a great threat to the West that must be prevented.
However, the quote from Thucydides is incongruous to his own assessment of the war in Afghanistan as his estimation clearly was at the time not that the Taliban could not be defeated and “kept under”, but the failure of the defeat laid in political and military mistakes. He states that “the time for pacifying Afghanistan was when the Taliban fled into the hills or went to ground after our 2001 invasion…and broken the feudal warlords with the full force of the world behind us.”
Hence the author clearly places the blame for not accomplishing the defeat of the Taliban on the political and military errors of the Bush administration and not that on a new “Petraeus template” applied in Afghanistan victory will continue to be elusive and unachievable.