Rajiv Chandrasekaran on the War for Afghanistan

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Washington Post correspondent Rajiv Chandrasekaran discusses America’s troubled war in Afghanistan. His new book Little America: The War Within the War for Afghanistan is an account of the surge, which he argues was sabotaged not only by Afghan and Pakistani malfeasance but by infighting and incompetence within the American government. Chandrasekaran examines the challenges of U.S. intervention there, and gives an eye-opening look at the complex relationship between America and Afghanistan.


Rajiv Chandrasekaran

Comments [5]


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Mar. 07 2013 05:14 AM
Dan from Midtown

Can Mr. Chandrasekaran consider that the decision to occupy Helmand was decided in part due to the Pakistani border?

Jun. 28 2012 12:51 PM
Amy from Manhattan

If Pres. Obama couldn't tell Sec'y. Clinton to fire Amb. Holbrooke, why couldn't he ask her to tell him not to alienate the White House staff members?

Jun. 28 2012 12:49 PM
Bradley from Southport, CT

I have to take exception with the author's comments on the 'C team' inhabiting USAID in Afghanistan. I know the person he interviewed as an example of what's wrong. And while she does characterize some of the people there, that is not the entire story. Many, many of the people there are intelligent, dedicated people who knew what they were doing and researched Afghanistan before implementing the development efforts. Many people there applied their skills and intellect within the mission and in coordination with Afghans, in GIROA all the way down to the village level. Most of us there (I was in Afghanistan from 2008 to 2011) worked outside the wire and knew that we had to engage with Afghans in their work-space while learning their context to make the development efforts sustainable and appropriate.

Most often, working with Afghans to create worthwhile development projects meant going to the District, village, even person-to-person level. While getting the business and elites on board with our efforts, more important was getting street level (wether they be paved or dirt roads) Afghans to participate.

Being caught between a risk-adverse Embassy and schedule demanding military put USAID in a bind it could not operate effectively within. Development takes time and can't be done well on a military time-table and as a diplomatic tool.

While the current administration has stumbled in Afghanistan, our efforts there were to engage with more programs. It took at least 18 months (including the focus of AfPak Holbrooke) to overcome the facile strategy that amounted to trying everything (military and development) over and over on a one-year cycle.

I look forward to reading the entire book and hope that its entirety is more balanced than the chapter on USAID.

Jun. 28 2012 12:49 PM
Wayne Johnson Ph.D. from Bk

The bottom line on Afghanistan is Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery where the men and women from Afghanistan are buried. I was there recently and watched the road graders digging dozens of more graves. This is Obama's legacy not health care.

Jun. 28 2012 12:38 PM

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