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Afghanistan, Escalation and the ‘Good War’

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Abstract

Unlike the ‘dumb’ war in Iraq, Afghanistan was portrayed throughout the 2008 election campaign as the ’good’ war, providing Obama a foil to demonstrate his toughness on foreign policy. Yet, despite the optimistic assumptions among Obama administration staffers, the ‘landscape’ spoke back, and it became quickly apparent that the US strategy was not working, prompting questions over US goals in Afghanistan. The lack of US knowledge of the Afghan terrain became evident throughout the autumn 2009 debate over escalation. Internal references and reports shaped the debate and, in the absence of knowledge of Afghanistan, analogies crept in, with civilian advisors fearful of another Vietnam, while many in the military invoked the ‘successful’ counterinsurgency in Iraq as a model that could be applied in Central Asia.

Keywords

  • Afghanistan
  • AfPak
  • al Qaeda
  • counterinsurgency
  • insurgency
  • McChrystal
  • Obama
  • Robert Gates
  • surge
  • Taliban

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Notes

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© 2014 David Fitzgerald and David Ryan

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Fitzgerald, D., Ryan, D. (2014). Afghanistan, Escalation and the ‘Good War’. In: Obama, US Foreign Policy and the Dilemmas of Intervention. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137428561_3

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