Friday, December 4, 2009

Obama on Afghanistan: military will have to work with tribal culture, testing its own cohesion


There’s a lot of post-mortem on President Obama’s Tuesday night speech at West Point on Afghanistan, but Michael Gerson’s column on p A27 of the Friday Dec. 4 Washington Post, “Obama’s Case to Make”, link here, goes into a little more subtlety.

The military (mainly the Army, including allies like the Brits, Prince Harry included perhaps) has a task related to its own issues of “unit cohesion” (so often mentioned in conjunction with “don’t ask don’t tell”): it has to comingle and become socialized with the people and break up the primitive tribalistic culture than enables the nighttime “letter threats” that Gerson talks about. He also talks about a warlord culture developing in Afghanistan, like that well known from Somalia (ironically mentioned in the ABC series “FlashForward”).

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