What the article does not analyze is the strategic and ideological doctrines of the administration, and in particular its radical misunderstanding of the threat from al-Qaeda and the challenges in Afghanistan, that led to these policy failures. The administration has tried as usual to shift blame to others, by claiming that the non-US “lead nations” in security sector reform performed inadequately and that NATO troop contributors have placed too many limitations on their troops. While these charges contain elements of truth, they ignore that the flawed “lead-donor” system resulted from the Bush administration’s ideologically motivated refusal in 2002 either to lead or authorize others (such as the UN) to lead a well-coordinated and resourced state-building effort.
Complaints about NATO troop contributors ignore the political reality that allies are reluctant to sacrifice their soldier’s lives to a conflict greatly exacerbated by Washington’s own mistakes. This same dynamic is being played out again as the administration pushes for a disastrous policy of accelerated poppy eradication, and allies whose troops may die in the resulting resistance push back.