January 10, 2023

Debacle In Afghanistan: An Insider’s View on What Went Wrong

Christopher Kolenda

In his initial digression, Christopher Kolenda shares emotions from the mass  removal of American troops from Afghanistan, those of dismay, frustration, guilt,  and disappointment. He then introduces his book, one of looking at what the U.S.  is doing at a policy level that is resulting in these interventions, Afghanistan, Iraq,  Vietnam, etc., into tragedies. To further explain what he believes as wrong policy  decisions, Kolenda provides and graphs three proximate causes for failure in  Afghanistan. These three causes include the lack of support gained by the Afghani  government, complacency, and dependency. Later, he notes on the structure of the  U.S. government and its advisor, and how it limits communication on overall  plans, limiting all parties to their lanes, the NSA in intelligence and other alike. Kolenda believes and demonstrates how no American in Afghanistan could  ultimately say things were going downhill because they were solely reporting on  all the positive actions being taken. To close, he describes three low-cost high payoff actions that can be taken by the U.S. government, like put someone in  charge that isn’t the president over these situations, creating a national security doctrine for all the different security organizations, and finally developing export  knowledge on war termination. Ultimately, Kolenda discusses topics with the  audience such as the problems with not having political goals, widespread  learning of military officials, and the idea of the “soldier scholar.”

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