A snippet of my latest article at the CTlab:
Occasionally pundits and western operators on the ground express frustration with the habit of ‘fence-sitting’ in Afghanistan. A few characterize it as some form of exotic behavior by people who care little about ideals and refuse to risk their security for the common good. Others, while clearly frustrated, acknowledge the rationale behind the behavior. An America Embedded Tactical Trainer (ETT) in Afghanistan remarks:
Most people in Afghanistan operate in the gray area, the fringe of being one side or the other. They’re hedging their bets. [….] There’s a saying that the Afghans have, you can’t buy an Afghan’s loyalty but you can rent it. Often times its dependent upon who’s there at the moment, us or the Taliban. The locals will wait on the sideline and see who’s winning. [my emphasis]
In the article I borrow liberally from Stathis Kalyvas’s well-grounded argument that fence-sitting is quite common in war, from Afghanistan to Colombia to Ukraine to Missouri and England.
Read the whole article here.