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Are Coalition Forces Winning the Battles But Losing the War in Afghanistan?

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British Forces in battle in the First Afghan War

A story two days ago says that the U.S.-led Coalition in Afghanistan may be winning the battles in the country but losing the war. This immediately reminded me of the war that led to the birth of America, the Revolutionary War. If I remember my grade school history correctly, although the British redcoats won more battles against the American militias they were unable to win the hearts and minds of the colonists. There is even a book by Robert V. Keeley entitled Winning Battles but Losing the War which explains this phenomenon. The book describes George Washington's militia army was able to use native sympathies from having local armies and propaganda against the superior British forces who were easily identified as foreign occupiers from a distant land. It is inevitable, according to the book's author that the insurgency enjoys a distinct advantage by having the support of the local population who are natural suspicious of foreign soldiers.

The book continues to explain a similar occurrence in modern days theatres of war like Iraq. And like the militias in Iraq, the Taliban in Afghanistan have been able to exploit native sympathies against the foreign occupiers despite being unable to beat the coalition forces in a conventional battle. Most importantly, the Taliban propaganda has successfully linked increased violence and the corrupt Karzai government with the coalition forces who have sometimes indiscriminately bombed civilian areas and have long supported the government in Kabul. The article concludes by saying that the Obama administration seems to recognize these shortcomings by switching to a strategy focused on protecting and aiding the civilian population over engaging the Taliban in combat at every opportunity.


Coalition forces are winning battles, losing war in Afghanistan, analysis finds

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