From the WaPo:
“Both were stricken by the Taliban insurgency four years ago. And over the past year, both have been treated with America’s new counterinsurgency formula: Each community has been flooded with U.S. Marines and Afghan security forces, at troop levels that meet or exceed what counterinsurgency theorists prescribe. Each has received a surge of cash and civilian experts in an effort to provide public services, rebuild infrastructure and dole out basic economic assistance. Each has been described as a priority by the central government in Kabul.
So why did all this work in one but not the other?
U.S. military officials contend that Marja needs more time to resemble Nawa. The Nawa operation began last July; efforts in Marja didn’t start until February. But when the Nawa campaign was five months old — where the Marja mission is now — the district was just as quiet as it is today. The improvements in Nawa occurred quickly, and they seem to have lasted.
By now, Marja was supposed to be a success story as well, demonstrating to a skeptical public in America and Afghanistan that countering the insurgency with more troops, more money and a new strategy could resuscitate a foundering war. Perhaps more important, counterinsurgency proponents in the Pentagon and the State Department hoped to use both towns to make the case to President Obama that counterinsurgency works in Afghanistan and that he should attenuate — or postpone outright — his planned drawdown of troops starting next July.
The uneven progress complicates that case. But so, too, does Nawa, for those who maintain that counterinsurgency won’t work in Afghanistan because the government is too corrupt, the security forces too inept and Pashtuns too distrustful of foreign troops.”
It’s time for everyone to admit that the COIN strategy and the McChrystal-Petraeus strategy have failed, and that McChrystal is an idiot general.