On the Record

Insurgents Are Not Winning in Afghanistan

Jeremy Shapiro

Jeremy Shapiro joined Spiegel Online’s Gregor Peter Schmitz to discuss the current security conditions in Afghanistan. Despite recent reports painting a grim picture, Shapiro believes NATO forces are on the right track.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Policy-makers in the US and Europe are shocked by the gloomy Pentagon assessment for Afghanistan. You, however, are pleading for more optimism. Why?

JEREMYSHAPIRO: There is ample reason for gloom, but we need to keep in mind that in the best of circumstances, Afghanistan is a long-term mission. We are talking about a committment of 10 or 20 years. I believe we have fundamentally the right strategy in place, but even if that is so it will take some time to show progress. I don’t believe we need the major review people are talking about.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Everyone seems to be asking for more troops in Afghanistan, though. President George W. Bush, John McCain, even Barack Obama.

SHAPIRO: More soldiers could be put to good use there, but they wouldn’t fundamentally change the situation. Let’s assume we would send in 10,000 more, as is contemplated: They could improve the local situation in a few areas for a time, but they would not rectify the problem of the Pakistani border areas and their ability to infiltrate insurgents into Afghanistan. As long as we don’t solve that problem, you could put 100,000 soldiers into Afghanistan and you would still have asymmetric attacks in various parts of Afghanistan and a rate of civilian and military casualties similar to the current one. And I have not yet heard viable suggestions on how to deal with the problem of the Pakistani border areas.

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