Posted by: Christian | May 21, 2009

Informed Skepticism

The main problem with the debate regarding Afghanistan is the ignorance on the part of most commentators. Primarily historical and social ignorance. And that is characteristic of many people on both (or rather numerous) sides of the “argument.” Now, to tell you the truth as I see it from my ivory tower (I’m on the lower rungs), the academics who have long focused on Afghanistan are just as divided as everyone else. I have heard numerous opinions (in public and in private) that make it clear that there is no consensus among Afghanistan experts as to “what should be done.”

As an example, I disagree to varying degrees with about half of what Gilles Dorronsoro says. But his book is among the top 5 that I recommend. And his credentials put him in the top section of the “expert pyramid.” Most academics prefer to explain the past, not give policy recommendations for the future. Dorronsoro, currently a visiting scholar at Carnegie, gives this 10 minute talk where he offers his recommendations:

He offers more complete recommendations and criticisms here (PDF).


  1. It may be a simplification, but I often think of the Afghan problem as a particularly difficult patient on House M.D. Diagnosis is inconclusive, but as the situation is life threatening experimental treatment is underway, sometimes with dangerous side effects, even lethal.

    Here’s hoping we get the diagnosis and treatment right before we lose the patient.

  2. Very good and thought-provoking posting, thanks



%d bloggers like this: