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Why Afghanistan is More Complex than Iraq

According to NATO Secretary General Rasmussen a comprehensive approach is needed in Afghanistan. He has been very impressed by General McChrystal's understanding of the complex situation:

As soon as I arrived, General McChrystal took me into his briefing room in ISAF Headquarters, and put up onto a big screen a graphic display of all the factors, military and civilian, we had to take into account if we are to succeed, and all the interconnections between them.  There were hundreds of lines, going in every direction.  It looked like someone had dumped a huge pot of cooked spaghetti onto the projector.

MSNBC has published the truly fascinating graphic about all the factors influencing Afghanistan's stability and the Counter Insurgency dynamics. Winning in Iraq seems to be much easier, if you look at the smart and straightforward briefing "How to Win the War in al Anbar," which Capt. Travis Patriquin, 32, created in 2006. It is according to RealClearPolitics "so simple (with stick figure drawings) that even the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee could understand it." He rebelled against the Pentagon's PowerPoint culture, which seems to be so bad that the Armed Forces Journal felt the need to publish an article titled "Dumb-dumb bullets." The NY Times writes today: We Have Met the Enemy and He Is PowerPoint.

Seriously, I guess many points from the stickfigures strategy for Al Anbar could work in Afghanistan, while McChrystal's graphic includes some universal truths that are relevant for Iraq as well. There are obviously many other issues that explain why winning in Afghanistan is more difficult than winning in Iraq. I just thought it was interesting to compare Chrystal's complex graphic with Patriquin's simple one. I guess we need both to explain military strategies.

I pay tribute to Captain Patriquin, who was killed by an IED on December 6, 2006. I think he deserves a lot of credit for the progress in Al Anbar.

Unrelated Endnotes: Presidents Obama and Medvedev issued a joint statement on April 25, 2010 to mark "the 65th anniversary of the legendary meeting of Soviet and American troops at the Elbe River, which became a striking symbol of the brotherhood-in-arms between our nations during World War II."
Moreover, I am happy that the world survived the
boobquake and the Iranian cleric is proven wrong. Well, according to McChrystal's graphic everything is related, so maybe these endnotes are related as well. ;-)

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